Brexiteer 'met Russian officials before referendum vote'

U.K. lawmakers want to question Brexit campaign backer on meetings with Russian officials

The Observer claimed the emails suggested Mr Banks visited Moscow in February 2016 to meet key partners and financiers behind a gold project, including a Russian bank.

Banks and Wigmore were introduced to Yakovenko by Alexander Udod, a suspected Russian spy who was expelled from the United Kingdom after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Speaking on his LBC show, Nigel Farage said that he knew Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore had met with the Russian ambassador at his residence because he was invited but said so.

Banks dismissed the leaked emails on Sunday evening, telling the Guardian: "I am not involved in Russian espionage".

The scale of the pair's links to Russian Federation is revealed in a series of 40,000 emails obtained by the former Sunday Times journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who ghost-wrote Mr Banks's Bad Boys of Brexit book.

"Banks and Wigmore genuinely sympathised - and continue to sympathise - with some of Putin's political views". The group operated separately from the official Vote Leave campaign.

Banks gave around £9 million to the Leave.EU campaign and Grassroots Out Brexit campaign, and used to fund the UK Independence Party under the leadership of his friend, Nigel Farage.

When asked about the allegations at the G7 summit in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "I am sure if there are any allegations that need investigation the proper authorities will do that".

Banks has also reportedly admitted that he handed over phone numbers for members of Donald Trump's transition team to Russian officials, after meeting with the United States president-elect in November 2016 in NY. "Bite me. It's a convenient political witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump".

U.K. lawmakers want to question Brexit campaign backer on meetings with Russian officials

Mr Banks has now agreed to appear on Tuesday before the House of Common's Culture and Media committee's inquiry into "fake news", having on Friday said he would not because the MPs were engaged in a "witch hunt".

Arron Banks will face questions on Tuesday over his meetings with Russia's ambassador to London amid claims of Moscow-meddling in the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

The insurance tycoon, who came to prominence when he donated £1million to Ukip in 2014, said nothing came of the discussion about consolidating Russian gold mines into a single company.

"We didn't profit from any business deals because I never pursued anything", he said.

Senior cabinet minister David Lidington told the BBC today that the allegations were "serious" and should be looked into by the authorities.

Mr Wigmore insisted he and Mr Banks never any Russians information about their Brexit campaign.

"I saw the ambassador once, I saw him twice, so what?"

The announcement came after the Sunday Times newspaper reported that Banks' contact with Russian officials was more extensive than previously acknowledged.

"When foreign powers are aggressively targeting the values, systems and institutions upon which our democracy is built, then it's absolutely essential that we have regulatory, security and intelligence-based organisations who are ready, willing and able to intervene", Kinnock said.

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