Brexit backer Arron Banks facing questions over Kremlin links

Now Remoaners are turning into conspiracy theorists

According to the report, the emails showed Banks met Yakovenko on three occasions - having previously only acknowledged one encounter in 2015 - and made a visit to Moscow in February 2016 in the midst of the referendum campaign.

They were also said to have met Alexander Udod, one of 23 suspected Russian intelligence officers ejected from the United Kingdom after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.

Reports on Sunday said the pair met three times, including lunching days after Mr Banks, Mr Wigmore and Mr Farage visited USA president elect Donald Trump in NY in November 2016.

Defiant Mr Banks told reporters: "I had two boozy lunches with the Russian ambassador and another cup of tea with him".

The Sunday Times said Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore were introduced to Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko by a suspected Russian spy - since expelled from Britain after the Salisbury poisoning case.

The paper said the revelations raised "explosive questions about attempts by Russian Federation to influence the referendum result" but Banks dismissed them as part of a "witch-hunt" against Brexit and Trump. The group operated separately from the official Vote Leave campaign.

"Did that happen? Did he make money out of it and did he use that money to fund his campaigns?"

Asked in Canada at a summit of G7 leaders including Mr Trump but not Vladimir Putin about the latest claims, Theresa May said: "I am sure that if there are any allegations that need investigation the proper authorities will do that".

"It's a convenient witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump", he added, referring to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The Sunday Times, citing emails it received from a journalist who worked with Banks on a book, said Banks and his associate Andy Wigmore had repeated contact with Russian officials both before and after the referendum campaign.

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The paper said she came forward after she said her email accounts were hacked.

However on Monday Mr Banks tweeted: "I have Russian visas in my passport clearly stamped, no visit in Feb 2016".

He also told The Times that he had disclosed details of his meetings with Russian officials to the London bureau of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Nigel Farage revealed that he was once invited to a meeting with Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore at the Russian Ambassador's residence but declined.

LONDON, June 8 (Reuters) - Arron Banks, the founder of Brexit campaign group Leave.EU, pulled out of a hearing with a parliamentary committee, saying on Friday it had been conducting a witch hunt of those who want Britain to leave the European Union.

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

He had also briefed US State Department officials about his meetings with the Russians, he said.

He told the paper he had also disclosed details of his contacts with the Russians to USA officials.

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

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

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