10:50 GMT31 May 2020
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    LONDON (Sputnik) – Arron Banks, the co-founder and key fundraiser of the UK pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign, refused to participate in a parliamentary hearing as part of the so-called fake news inquiry, accusing lawmakers of conducting a campaign against the groups that supported withdrawal.

    Banks and Andy Wigmore, another key figure in the Leave.EU campaign, were supposed to participate in a June 12 hearing, led by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) of the UK lower house, as part of the probe into the way disinformation, data sharing, and data misuse might have influenced the option of the UK voters, particularly before the 2016 Brexit referendum, and affected the results of this vote.

    "I am writing to inform you that Andy Wigmore and myself will not be appearing before the committee on the 12th June," Banks' letter to Damian Collins, the chair of the DCMS, read.

    In April, Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director at the UK Cambridge Analytica consultancy, told the DCMS that the company had been contracted by the Leave EU campaign. She also alleged that the campaign used the data of Banks’ insurance company Eldon Insurance and stored it at a facility in Mississippi at Ole Miss University for processing by Banks’ Big Data Dolphins company.

    READ MORE: 'See You in Court': Leave.EU Fined Over Campaign Finance Dishonesty

    Leave.EU then denied Kaiser’s claims saying that Eldon Insurance did not share data with anyone.

    The Fair Vote Project rights group used Kaiser’s evidence to launch legal action in Mississippi to seek a preservation order over this data which would prevent the companies in question from tampering with it.

    Arron argued that the rights group used allegations provided by some witnesses in the case, not "actual evidence" in its legal action. The Leave.EU fundraiser added that both the US university and the campaign denied the rights group’s allegations under oath.

    Aaron continued by emphasizing that the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) watchdog sent a letter of support to the Fair Vote Project which was subsequently dismissed by the judge in the case as inappropriate. Moreover, the DCMS had released evidence from a witness in the case prior to the hearing to help the rights group, and the Fair Vote Project publicly thanked the committee for it.

    "We believe the actions of the committee amount to collusion with a Pro EU campaign group in order to create ‘Fake News’ … We will be reporting yourself and the people involved to the appropriate House of Common[s] authority for colluding with the Fair Vote Project & investigating whether the ‘Parliamentary privilege’ you enjoy might be revoked as a result," Banks wrote in his letter.

    Banks suggested that the committee, which comprises parliamentarians who had been against Brexit, is conducting together with the ICO and the UK Electoral Commission a coordinated "witch hunt" against pro-Brexit groups.

    In May, the Electoral Commission fined Leave.EU 70,000 pounds ($94,000) saying the group had violated the electoral law by failing to report at least 77,380 it had spent. Banks has said the group would appeal the commission’s ruling.

    hearing, Leave.EU, Andy Wigmore, Arron Banks, United Kingdom
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