Brexit backer Arron Banks facing questions over Kremlin links

The Government and the intelligence services are likely to face calls to investigate the new evidence of contact between the Brexiteers and Putin's officials

In his book, The Bad Boys of Brexit, Mr Banks had previously admitted to only one.

Speaking to ITV News Mr Banks said he did meet a few times with the Ambassador but denied any of collusion or Russian influence.

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

As part of the meetings the Russian ambassador was said to have proposed a business deal that would have involved them in the consolidation into one company of six Russian goldmines.

The report is based on a series of emails leaked to the Sunday Times by journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who ghost-wrote Banks' account of the European Union referendum, titled "The Bad Boys of Brexit".

Any suggestion that Leave.EU received financial help from Russian Federation was "complete, absolute garbage", he said, positioning himself as the victim of a "witch-hunt".

At a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit in the canadian resort of La Malbaie in the province of Quebec to the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa may was asked whether she believed that British security services should investigate the revelation in the article that the head of the government said: "I have not seen the publication in The Sunday Times, but I think that any recognition of the need of the investigation and the competent authorities, it will".

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

The Sunday Times says the claims led to "explosive questions" about Russian attempts to influence the referendum result with the emails showing "repeated contact with officials to discuss business opportunities and issues of mutual interest".

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Ms Oakeshott passed them to the paper after her email accounts were "hacked".

Ms Oakeshott wrote in the newspaper that Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore were "shamelessly used by the Russians".

"It's a convenient political witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump".

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.

He told the paper that nothing had come of their discussions over the goldmine deal.

The paper quoted Andy Wigmore, a close associate of Banks who was present at the meeting, as saying that they did not offer "any information to (the ambassador) or any Russian any details of our campaign".

The Russian Embassy insists that it "has not in any way intervened in the domestic United Kingdom political process, including the Brexit referendum" and that meeting stakeholders from across a country's political spectrum is a "natural element of the work of any embassy".

Banks and Wigmore were invited back to meet Yakovenko after they, and Brexit firebrand Nigel Farage, met with Trump in November 2016 shortly after his election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed Mr Banks "probably has questions to answer", while Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said: "Clearly they are serious allegations but we have, in this country, a system where there are independent agencies to look at allegations of malpractice".

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