Brexit tycoon quits House of Commons committee hearing – for lunch with DUP MPs

Andy Wigmore, Arron Banks, Sammy Wilson MP and Ian Paisley Junior MP on the House of Commons terrace after lunch, which took place after Banks and Wigmore walked out of a Commons committee hearing. Image taken from Paisley's twitter feed
Andy Wigmore, Arron Banks, Sammy Wilson MP and Ian Paisley Junior MP on the House of Commons terrace after lunch, which took place after Banks and Wigmore walked out of a Commons committee hearing. Image taken from Paisley's twitter feed

The founder of Brexit campaign Leave.EU walked out of a fiery clash with a House of Commons committee, telling the distinguished Westminster body he had another engagement — lunch with two DUP MPs.

Multi millionaire Arron Banks left the occasionally ill-tempered hearing before the MPs finished their questions after the committee over-ran, saying the pair had a lunch appointment.

Alongside his communications chief, Andy Wigmore, he ignored pleas to stay for five more minutes, to answer further questions from the committee, which is investigating so-called “fake news”.

Mr Banks then left the evidence session, without elaborating on who his pressing lunch engagement was with.

But it later transpired that he was dining and laughing with Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim, and Ian Paisley Junior, MP for North Antrim.

Mr Paisley posted a picture on Twitter of the quartet smiling for the camera on the House of Commons terrace, Mr Banks with cigarette in hand.

Andy Wigmore (left) and Arron Banks of Leave.EU give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into fake news. They left the session before it finished, saying that it had overrun and ignoring pleas from MPs to stay and answer some more questions. Photo: PA Wire

Andy Wigmore (left) and Arron Banks of Leave.EU give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into fake news. They left the session before it finished, saying that it had overrun and ignoring pleas from MPs to stay and answer some more questions. Photo: PA Wire

He wrote: “Great to catch up on a busy day with @Arron_banks and Andy Wigmore to discuss Brexit and beyond over an entertaining lunch.”

In reference to the row over their contacts with Russia, Mr Paisley added: “Interesting to note no Caviar or vodka.”

During the earlier hearing, Mr Banks admitted he “led people up the garden path” during the referendum campaign.

He also confirmed that Leave.EU held talks with controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and intended to use its services if it had been selected as the official Leave campaign — which it was not.

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore (left) leave Portcullis House in Westminster, London, after quitting a hearing into fake news by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry, before it had finished asking them questions. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore (left) leave Portcullis House in Westminster, London, after quitting a hearing into fake news by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry, before it had finished asking them questions. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire