Yesterday, Zelo Street warned that the BBC giving the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit” Arron Banks a platform on The Andy Marr Show™ might not be such a good idea. And so it came to pass, as Banksy did what he does every time - he talked well, but lied badly. In addition to the routine and easily provable dishonesty, he managed to defame at least two other people. And on top of that, very little got explained. As I predicted.
Banksy managed to generate rather more heat than light and he ducked and weaved before Marr’s inquisition, but two items stand out above the fog of deliberate misinformation, the first of which is the source of all that money that was ponied up in donations and loans, mainly for Leave EU. Banks’ answer was consistent as to the source.
“The money came from Rock Services which was a UK limited company. It was generated out of insurance business written in the UK … Rock Services is where the money came from … We went to a QC to get the loan structure signed off … And he signed it off and we put it forward in the right correct form … I’ve told you. Rock Services”.
He clung to this answer despite Marr responding that the BBC had checked with Companies House and concluded that Rock Services was merely a shell company that could not possibly have generated the £8 million. So let’s look at Rock Services’ accounts for that period and see just who is telling the right story here.
In 2016, Rock Services’ fixed assets were worth less than £1 million. Its net assets figure was more than £100,000 in the red. Its turnover was just under £40 million, and that was more than eaten up by administrative costs of over £40 million. Ultimately, the company ended up declaring an operating loss of more than £300,000.
So how did Banksy get £8 million out of that? As Richard Williams concluded, “As the Rock Services didn’t make profits to generate cash in 2016, if the cash came from there, it either had cash reserves at the end of the previous year (it didn’t) or it generated the cash from its balance sheet”. Fine. So where on the balance sheet is it, Banksy?
The second stand-out from the interview was Banks defaming at least two people over the question of a tranche of emails that ended up with the Observer’s Carole Cadawlladr and Peter Jukes of Byline Media. And the defamation was all too obvious. Here it comes.
After whining “We know what this is about. This is about undermining Article 50, it’s undermining the Brexit result and it’s a collection of very vicious Labour MPs that have grouped together with The Guardian and FT to try to undermine Brexit” (wrong) and sniffing “The Electoral Commission sat on this for five months. We’ve had no allegations put to us by the Electoral Commission. No correspondence in five months”, off he went.
“I mean straightforward bullying by the way is The Guardian blackmailing a researcher of Isabel Oakeshott and actually then Lord Ashcroft had to fly her over into New Zealand … Because the guy was blackmailed and had to be flown back to Australia”.
Was it a he or a her? Australia or New Zealand? Or was it Ms Oakeshott who had to flown to New Zealand? And why couldn’t Banks tell the Guardian and Observer apart?
But the response was swift, with Ms Cadwalladr going first. “I warned the editor of #Marr that @arron_banks would seek to smear & defame me. Which he did. I had to pre-record to talk about Banks on @bbc. Why was this live? Why was he allowed to take his ‘emails’ on air & trash talk me? Why was I given no chance to respond?”
Peter Jukes was more forthright still. “You’ve … allowed, without checks, @Arron_banks to repeat baseless claims I broke the law and hacked/blackmailed to get hold of his emails. Banks and Wigmore were put on notice about this five months ago. I need an immediate right to reply”. He included evidence that lawyers had already been involved.
And isn’t the reality of the situation that Arron Banks ran out of excuses, ran out of targets for deflection, failed to convince over Rock Services, and so tried to lie his way out of it and at the death smear two people who’ve got him and his pals figured out?
I said it would not be a good idea for the BBC to give Banks a platform. That the Marr Show has now become embroiled, however tangentially, in a defamation action shows that I was right. I’ll just leave that one there.
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