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Lawmakers want to question Brexit backer on Russian Federation meetings

15 June 2018

Banks and Leave.EU communications Andy Wigmore chief quit the hearing as MPs on the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee attempted to ask further questions at the end of a spiky hearing.

He added: "You may have better intel than me".

Testifying before a Parliament committee, Arron Banks said he was being targeted in a witch hunt by politicians and journalists who favoured remaining in the 28-nation bloc.

Asked if he believed there was any attempt by Russian Federation to influence the outcome of the 2016 vote, Mr Banks said it was "possible" but he believed it was confined to a few hackers and computer bots at a "low level".

Mr Banks, who was co-founder of the Leave.

Banks and Wigmore confirmed that Leave.EU had lodged an appeal against an Electoral Commission finding the organisation breached spending rules during the referendum.

Mr. Banks reminded the committee that his wife is Russian, and said the lunch was fairly normal in the diplomatic and political community.

Brexiteer Arron Banks admitted he "led people up the garden path" during the referendum campaign.

"I'd like to think I'm an evil genius with a white cat that kind of controls the whole of western democracy, but clearly that's nonsense" he said, before suggesting the media committee had its own motivations.

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Referring to claims that the police could be asked to investigate, Mr Banks said: "I would like to know what the police are going to investigate".

The media committee was quizzing Banks about his possible ties to Russian Federation after the Sunday Times said his contacts there went further than he had previously disclosed.

Asked by chairman Damien Collins if he could give them five more minutes, he replied: "I'm sorry but it's time to go. the word is no, you said 20 minutes and we've gone over 20 minutes". According to Wigmore, she has said: "This young girl said, 'You're British, do you have the telephone number for No 10 Downing Street?"

Banks was being questioned by a committee of lawmakers who are investigating his ties to Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy at the center of a scandal over the misuse of millions of Facebook (FB.O) users' data.

Wigmore added, "Referendums are not about facts". So, it is hard for the committee to know if we should take all of their answers seriously when it comes to data sharing and misuse, campaign spending and their meetings with high-ranking Russian officials'.

Banks said he had two lunches with the Russian ambassador, who introduced him to a businessman who was proposing a complex gold-mining deal in Russia.

Banks and Wigmore also told MPs that they had passed a phone number for the Trump transition team to Yakovenko at another lunch they had with him in November 2016, a few days after their infamous visit to Trump Tower where they had met the then president-elect after waiting in the building for six hours.

He and Mr Wigmore began the session by challenging Mr Collins's right to chair it, because the Tory had declared receiving two tickets worth £1,060 for a football match at Chelsea, owned by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich.

Lawmakers want to question Brexit backer on Russian Federation meetings