Brexit campaigns financier Arron Banks is facing more and more investigations by agencies in multiple jurisdictions. Now a video has re-emerged that complements what appears to be compromising evidence reported by openDemocracy and by a former Cambridge Analytica director.
One of the questions BBC’s Andrew Marr put to Banks (at 14.25) in an interview aired on 4 November was whether staff at his Lysander House office in Bristol had worked on the Leave campaigns and his Eldon insurance business too (which could contravene electoral law):
Banks denied this happened, telling Marr that Eldon employees had merely:
transferred over on short-term contracts, legally, and it was reported in the right way.
Here is the full Jan '16 footage of the Bristol offices from 'L'argent trouble du Brexit' by Vox Pop on ARTE (plus English ##subtitles), showing the head of Leave, #AaronBanks, a potential activist being called, newsletter being designed, & a social media work station too. pic.twitter.com/rWck49IH9U
— oatc (@_oatc_) November 7, 2018
And there was this:
As I remarked in the thread when first tweeting that video, that campaign point wasn't really much talked off previously, compared to the rest & it seemed like they were responsible for leading in promoting it. It does align with Russian interests. pic.twitter.com/BtLcSrgJ4e
— oatc (@_oatc_) November 7, 2018
Moreover, after a visit to Lysander House in 2015, former Cambridge Analytica business development manager Brittany Kaiser claimed she witnessed “with her own eyes” how Leave.EU targeted Eldon customers.
I was under the impression, by what they told me, that every single individual that they [Leave.EU] were pulling up to call was actually a lead or a current customer of Eldon Insurance or GoSkippy.
Hundreds of emails leaked to openDemocracy also show how Eldon insurance staff worked on the Leave campaign.
Electoral Commission and NCA investigations
As previously reported by The Canary, the National Crime Agency (NCA) is now investigating the financial dealings of Banks. In particular, that of Rock Holdings Ltd, based in the Isle of Man. And if it emerges that this company was the source of donations by Banks to the Leave campaign, then that could count as an illegal overseas donation.
Bob Posner, Electoral Commission’s director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, said:
Our investigation has unveiled evidence that suggests criminal offences have been committed which fall beyond the remit of the Commission. This is why we have handed our evidence to the NCA to allow them to investigate and take any appropriate law enforcement action. This is now a criminal investigation. The financial transactions we have investigated include companies incorporated in Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.
Banks denies any wrongdoing. As the BBC reported, he says he is:
confident that a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues…
There is no evidence of any wrongdoing from the companies I own. I am a UK taxpayer and I have never received any foreign donations. The Electoral Commission has produced no evidence to the contrary.
Another investigation has seen the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) report on how Leave.EU sent more than one million emails which included marketing for Eldon Insurance. Eldon customers were also sent a Leave.EU newsletter.
The ICO subsequently fined Eldon Insurance and Leave.EU £60,000 each for infringements of data protection legislation:
Elizabeth Denham: "Our report found a disturbing disregard for voters’ personal privacy by players across the political campaigning eco-system – data firms and brokers, social media platforms, campaign groups and political parties.” #democracydisrupted https://t.co/1lClaqf2oj pic.twitter.com/9tWLg3ePwP
— ICO (@ICOnews) November 6, 2018
Banks responded on Twitter:
So @DamianCollins and crazy @carolecadwalla the @Ico find no evidence of a grand data conspiracy and find we may have accidentally sent a newsletter to customers. @DamianCollins vindicative all Remain supporting committee have some answers of their own to answer ! https://t.co/Dj2GHbewq8
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) November 6, 2018
Banks also majority-owns PRI Holdings, based in the British Virgin Islands. Gibraltar-based STM Fidecs Management Ltd acts as secretary to PRI and numerous other entities. The Panama Papers showed that Banks owned 25,500 shares in PRI. And chief executive of Leave.EU Liz Bilney 12,250 shares.
Kaiser told the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that she saw Eldon staff simultaneously working for Leave.EU.
But it wasn’t just about customers. She added:
In hindsight, I now think that there is reason to believe that misuse of data was rife amongst the businesses and campaigns of Arron Banks. If the personal data of UK citizens who just wanted to buy car insurance was used by GoSkippy and Eldon Insurance for political purposes, as may have been the case, people clearly did not opt in for their data to be used in this way by Leave.EU.
One former Eldon worker claimed that staff were often asked to help Leave.EU’s pro-campaign.
Some of these images were really horrible, the immigrants and refugee stuff. But there were always these urgent requests coming in. You were told to stop what you were doing and do something for Leave.EU.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller is heading an inquiry that is looking into alleged links between the Trump camp and Russia. Reports suggest that Banks and his associates are now of interest to Mueller too:
Oooooooh, if true. https://t.co/tIyENxAwCP
— John Sweeney (@johnsweeneyroar) November 6, 2018
The UK parliamentary committee is also examining Banks’ alleged links to Russia.
Can it get worse?
So, multiple investigations are looking into multiple infringements.
But can it get much worse? On current trends, most definitely.
The Canary asked Banks for comment but received no reply by the time of publication.
Statement from @Arron_Banks: "I am pleased that the Electoral Commission has referred me to the National Crime Agency. I am confident that a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues." pic.twitter.com/V6fdjk604Z
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) November 1, 2018
– Read more about Arron Banks on openDemocracy.
Featured image via screengrab
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