Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Arron Banks to face MPs in parliamentary showdown over Russian Federation links

Brittany Kaiser Brittany Kaiser
Steven Clarke | 14 June, 2018, 01:32

Arron Banks, the outspoken founder of the Leave.eu campaign, faced almost three hours of questioning by British lawmakers probing the spread of misinformation online. Banks said they had run past their agreed time and that he had a lunch date.

The committee that questioned Banks is also investigating Cambridge Analytica, the data company which reaches voters with hyper-targeting messaging, including on Facebook.

Jason and Nigel clashed moments after an exclusive LBC interview with Leave.EU's Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore.

The committee of MPs questioning him was entirely made up of Remain supporters, and Mr. Banks accused them of having a "vested interest" in discrediting the Brexit vote, and slammed sensational stories about his organisation in the Guardian newspaper as "fake news".

"I've got no business interests in Russian Federation and I've done no business deals in Russian Federation", said Banks, who was pictured with Trump and fellow Brexit backer Nigel Farage at Trump Tower days after the presidential election in November 2016.

According to details of emails reported by the Sunday Times and the Observer, Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore also discussed potential business opportunities in Russian Federation including a proposal involving six gold mines.

The two witnesses said that when Wigmore emailed a journalist at the time to suggest Banks was in Russian Federation and unavailable, he was being mischievous and lying.

"Parliament itself is the biggest source of fake news in the country", he added.

Trump declares North Korea 'no longer a nuclear threat'
At a news conference wrapping up the summit, Trump told reporters he and Kim "have developed a very special bond". US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Mr Trump's cost reasoning for halting the exercises was "ridiculous".

He also revealed he had lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission about their investigation into him and Leave.EU, restricting what could be asked by the committee. The group's ads were seen by many as divisive and fear mongering.

"You have to have a sense of humor", Banks said. "If that's provocation or a lie, if you want to call it that, yeah".

The men then met Mr Paisley - who had been present during some of the session - and Mr Wilson for lunch in a Commons restaurant.

One meeting was in November 2016, three days after Banks met newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump.

Banks jokingly said Mr. Collins was "conflicted" and should not sit in the meeting, to which he replied, "nice try", without denying taking the gift of tickets to a football game.

Mr Banks, whose wife is Russian, said opponents of Brexit and Mr Trump had seized on claims of Russian interference as an explanation for their defeats, suggesting several MPs had used the ancient right of parliamentary privilege to accuse Leave.EU in the House of Commons. His three children are also dual citizens, he added.

The combative testimony comes at an awkward time for the government as it engages in last-gasp efforts to persuade wavering Conservative Party lawmakers not to rebel against its key Brexit legislation in votes on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, the House of Lords has passed 15 amendments to the legislation that would weaken the Brexit process by keeping the United Kingdom within the EU's customs union and give parliament more of a say over the final arrangement with the EU.

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