Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Backers of Brexit funding campaign investigated for "suspected criminal offences"

Backers of Brexit funding campaign investigated for

"The Electoral Commission has laid out concerns about this in public and it is legitimate and editorially justified for Andrew Marr to question Mr Banks robustly about them, which he will do on Sunday morning". And the man who funded posters claiming the United Kingdom was at "breaking point" over immigration even claimed that the channel's news programme was a "leading proponent" of angst in the country.

The BBC has been criticised for booking Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit billionaire who is the subject of a criminal investigation, to appear on the Andrew Marr Show today.

Mr Banks is under investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after an Electoral Commission probe into £8.4 million in donations made to the Leave.EU campaign in the run up to the Brexit referendum.

"Look, I'd rather go and put a revolver against my temple and pull the trigger than go on Channel 4 News, if that's ok with you".

It suspected Banks was not the "true source" of loans to the campaign and the money had come "from impermissible sources" - noting several meetings with senior Russian officials about gold mining.

The Electoral Commission says it suspects the money came from Rock Holdings, the parent company of Rock Services, which is registered in the Isle of Man and so "could not lawfully make any donation or be a party to any loan to Leave.EU".

The Electoral Commission referred the case, about potential spending offences during the 2016 referendum campaign on European Union membership, to the agency.

Mr Banks also attacked Damian Collins, chairman of the DCMS Committee.

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But Mr Banks told Marr that it came from a UK-based insurance business, saying: "There was no Russian money and no interference of any type". It was generated out of insurance business written in the UK.

"The money came from Rock Services, which was a United Kingdom limited company. I want to be absolutely clear about that", he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

The explanation differs from one Mr Banks gave the Commons Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee in June, in which he claimed Rock Services was "just a service company".

"If Rock Services made the donation, where did the money come from for Rock Services to do that?"

Both Bilney and Banks deny any wrongdoing, with the latter posting a flurry of tweets on Friday evening.

On Sunday, Mr Banks denied fresh newspaper allegations that he might have misled parliament over links between one of his insurance companies and the Leave.EU campaign.

The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw wrote to Theresa May on Friday to ask whether the government had blocked requests to conduct an investigation into Banks, amid repeated allegations that an inquiry was prevented during her time as home secretary.

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