Looking at Arron Banks, the generously waist-lined alleged “Man who bankrolled Brexit”, one cannot easily imagine him making even the basic training for the armed forces, let alone participating in acts of spirit, bravado and derring-do, although he no doubt ranks as high as any in Rome. But that has not deterred Channel 4 News from levelling a host of eyebrow-raising allegations against him, to be aired this evening.
Banks has previously been connected to a series of contacts with the Russian ambassador to the UK, proposed business deals in Russia including gold and diamond mining, as well as all those contacts in and around the Trump gang. Also, as I noted last month, rather a lot of money donated or loaned by Banks to the various Leave campaigns was unaccounted for afterwards. Several millions of it.
The suspicion that someone may have been indulging in money laundering hung over Banks’ campaign involvement like a dark cloud. And now has come a whole series of claims about his dealings in the small southern African country of Lesotho. Channel 4 News had already discussed Banks’ diamond mine there, which appeared incapable of generating serious production - not enough to justify what he appeared to pay for it.
And then there were all those payments to John Maseribane, including times when the later PM of Lesotho was not in power. Now has come the claim that Banks was prepared to get his pal into power with “mercenary support” if necessary. But Banks has not reached for the lawyers when confronted with the allegations - he has instead leaked the lot to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.
As befits The Great Guido, simply stating facts is never enough, and so readers are told “Channel 4 News Accuse Banks Of Gun Running To Organise Coup In Lesotho With SAS Mercenaries”. There was one former SAS officer somewhere in there, but hey ho. “Guido has obtained a series of eye-popping allegations made by Channel 4 News that read like a far-fetched Wilbur Smith novel” they tell (it was Daniel Carney who wrote The Wild Geese).
The Fawkes missive continues “Arron says ‘Jon Snow must have found some old psychedelic drugs from the 60’s in his top drawer’, mocking the increasingly far-fetched claims made by Channel 4 News … Having read the charges made in the letter Guido can only conclude that either Channel 4 News have the scoop of the year or, they have gone full Cadwalladr”. But Banks did not reach for the lawyers. Why would that be?
He’s been accused of unlawful diamond trading, intending to interfere in Lesotho’s economy, looking to get his pal into power there by force if necessary, discussing obtaining a cache of weapons and opening a military training school. But Arron Banks, who had all those millions to throw at the referendum campaign, can’t afford to live in his own mansion, and seemingly can’t afford to set the lawyers on Channel 4 News, either.
Anyone would think he was merely the fall guy for a rather more significant player. A player that has now deemed him surplus to requirements. The order has gone out to pass him by.