When alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit” Arron Banks appeared before the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show™ last Sunday, he was unequivocal as to the status of those working at his offices near Bristol in the run-up to the 2016 EU Referendum. Those who worked on the Leave EU campaign were under contract to Leave EU; those who remained in the service of his insurance business were kept separate.
Marr put it directly to Banks: “there’s been a great tranche of emails come out of Eldon Insurance, your insurance company in Bristol which show that people were working there both for the insurance company and for Leave EU”. What say Banksy? “That was reported to the Electoral Commission and people were - people that did work from Eldon were transferred over on short term contracts, legally and then it was reported through the Electoral Commission in the right way”. But not everyone agrees.
The Commons DCMS Committee’s report certainly does not, and contains this interesting observation: “Brittany Kaiser told us that she visited the Eldon Insurance and Leave EU headquarters, ‘which was in the same building with the same staff. When a senior data scientist and I spent time with their phone bank I was told by the people using the phone bank that the individuals they were calling were from the insurance database’”.
That would be a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations 2003. And the response? “Arron Banks responded ‘a flat lie’. Yet on 25 January 2016 a French news documentary showed Arron Banks’ insurance call centre employees working at the call centre for Leave EU, with Liz Bilney, on tape, confirming this”.
Now, one enterprising individual has unearthed the relevant footage of the call centre. This tells “Leave EU … employs 60 people at this call centre, seven days a week … but the surprise was that the worker [shown] was neither activist nor volunteer … He works in the premises of an insurance company, GoSkippy, and some do it without even being employees … this is the case of Elisabeth Bilney”. Right on cue, in walks Liz.
“At the same time head of the campaign to leave Europe, and one of the managers of the insurance company”. Ms Bilney was asked directly “And these people usually work for GoSkippy?” to which she replied “Yes, they do both [my emphasis], but now they are full time on the campaign we also have to hire new people”. Do go on. “Behind this curious mix of genres, this man, Arron Banks”. So no demarcation, as Banks claimed?
Seemingly not. As Open Democracy told after Banks made his Marr Show claims, “There were no separate contracts for the Leave work. None at all. You were just told to do that at the same time as working on the insurance business”. Another former staffer added “We worked for all the different groups. I worked for Leave and I never had a contract for Leave. It was just what you were told to do”. The French documentary confirms it.
DCMS chairman Damian Collins has, understandably, concluded that Banksy was “not telling the truth once again … Once again it appears that he has not been straight with the answers he gave at the committee”. All of which shows why interviewing him is pointless.
Arron Banks will just lie his way out of it. But you can’t lie your way out of being caught bang to rights, with evidence piling up as it is now. I’ll just leave that one there.
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