Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Lawmakers want to question Brexit backer on Russian Federation meetings

Lawmakers want to question Brexit backer on Russian Federation meetings

After the warnings, Banks said, the deal fell away. He added: "I have no business in Russian Federation, I have done no business deals in Russian Federation". But as the hearing was towards the close Mr Banks - a close friend of Nigel Farage - suddenly cut it short as he had "places to be".

Banks also confirmed to the committee investigating fake news the Brexit-backing group held talks with controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and meant to use its services if it had been selected as the official Leave campaign - which it was not.

The last of these was in November 2016, three days after Mr Banks, Leave.EU's communications director Andy Wigmore and the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage met Mr Trump in NY following his election victory.

Previous to Banks and Wigmore's French exit the pair had been under fire for alleged links to Russian Federation.

"I pay a shed-load of tax, probably more than the entire committee put together", he said. I would like to know what the police are going to investigate - lunch with the Russian ambassador? "What were you hoping to get out of it?"

Mr Banks emphatically replied: "Absolutely not".

Lawmaker Damian Collins said his committee plans to question Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.

In a tense exchange, Mr Banks tells the committee it has already run late and he has to leave to go for lunch.

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Banks: "Not really, we'd had a very pleasant lunch with him that lasted six hours." . "What's wrong with that?"

"In light of the fact that, according to Guido, you had some hospitality from Putin's number one man in the United Kingdom, do you not think you are a bit conflicted questioning us about this today?" he said. According to Wigmore, she has said: "This young girl said, 'You're British, do you have the telephone number for No 10 Downing Street?"

Mr Banks categorically denied any wrongdoing in meeting with Russian officials, insisting his meetings had focussed on Donald Trump more than Brexit and that Russian money had never been transferred to Leave.EU.

Earlier, it emerged that Banks had lodged an appeal against the Electoral Commission over its decision to levy a £70,000 fine against Leave.EU for breaching its spending limits.

The watchdog said the group - which was separate from the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave - failed to report "at least" £77,380 it spent. Wigmore said that "in the light of hospitality from Putin's No 1 man in London, you might recuse yourself".

Collins told the witnesses that that was a "nice try" and that while he watched the match, he had not met Abramovich.

"All I can say is I got invited to the football, I didn't meet the owner, I wasn't offered Stalin's vodka, I'm not as good at pushing their buttons as you are".

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