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

Nigel Farage

Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, made his comments in an interview on Nigel Farage's LBC show on Monday evening in which he denied Russian interference had influenced the result of the Brexit referendum.

Banks, who financed the Leave.EU campaign, said that at the time when he and his associate Andy Wigmore met Russian Embassy officials before the 2016 referendum, contact with them was not regarded as an issue.

Reports in the Sunday Times claimed Mr Banks held a series of undisclosed meetings with Russian embassy officials around the time of the 2016 referendum campaign.

Mr Banks, who donated £12m to Nigel Farage's campaign to leave the European Union, has repeatedly denied any involvement with Russia, or that Russian money played any part in the Brexit campaign.

Referring to the London ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, he said: "I've met him and his people in the diplomatic community many times - that's what you do".

The insurance tycoon, who donated millions to Leave.EU and also previously funded UKIP, said: "We had about four shots of Stalin vodka, brandy, wine".

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His appearance comes after Prime Minister Theresa May said calls for an inquiry into alleged links between Russian Federation and the campaign to leave the European Union are a matter for the police. We were pretty trollied.

In total, Mr Banks said he had two lunches with the Russian ambassador and one cup of tea where he was introduced to a businessman with the gold mines proposal.

"The ambassador was probably in a worse state than we were".

"I'm still waiting for the cheque from President Putin for the alleged money if that is the case but no, of course not", said Millionaire campaigner Mr Banks.

The head of the parliamentary inquiry into "fake news", Conservative MP Damian Collins, said the report raised serious questions about Russian interference in United Kingdom politics.

He said he wrote to the Electoral Commission and the Metropolitan Police in early 2017 to express his concerns, but the police said they would only get involved if the Commission asked them to.

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