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Leading Brexiteer met with Russians `to discuss bananas´

Leading Brexiteer met with Russians `to discuss bananas´”

In a robust and occasionally confrontational display at the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee the pair admitted using spin and exaggeration.

"I can categorically say no, we didn't", Banks said. EU, but Mr Banks said the company was not involved with the Leave.

Wigmore told MPs the "only" thing he and Banks gave to the ambassador was the telephone number of Donald Trump's transition team. "It wasn't. I've got no business interests in Russian Federation and I've done no business deals in Russian Federation".

Questions about Banks's engagement in the gold deal came at the end of a marathon three-hour hearing that saw Nigel Farage's backer eventually walk out, refusing to answer five more minutes of questions because he had another appointment and had been previously told the hearing was close to a conclusion.

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 U.S. president-elect in November 2016 in NY.

Britain has said it has seen no evidence of Russian interference in the vote, but as part of a broader inquiry into "fake news", lawmakers on the committee are investigating whether the Kremlin tried to influence public opinion beforehand.

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.

He met Russia's United Kingdom ambassador three times in 2015 and 2016, discussing Brexit and Donald Trump's election.

Giles Watling, a Conservative MP on the committee, asked Banks: "I'd like to move on to big scary Russian Federation".

"He said he only met the Russian ambassador on one occasion; we now know it was more than that".

"If you don't like the tax law pertaining to this country, get out there and change that".

Mr Banks replied: 'No. Echoing his phrase, Banks agreed: "Many good lunches".

And he revealed he had been asked by the transition team for No.10 Downing Street's phone number when he met with Trump advisers shortly after the USA presidential election. "What's wrong with that?"

"We actually saw the suits from the American embassy who introduced us to the State Department to explain what had happened and then we briefed the Americans on our meetings with the Russians", he said.

Mr Wigmore added that "the piece of advice that we got, right from the beginning, was remember referendums are not about facts, it's about emotion and you have got to tap into that emotion".

He added that the accusations against him and Leave.EU's Communications Director Andy Wigmore were nothing but a political witch-hunt aimed at prominent Brexit supporters. Collins told the committee that as a result it would not be possible for the committee to explore related areas.

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, questions have surfaced about Banks and Leave.EU's unofficial campaign.

"Perhaps you might want to recuse yourself and let one of the other people take over as chair?"



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