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Brexit dark money revelations trigger MP's question on 'foreign interference'

openDemocracy's investigations into Leave donor Arron Banks and the DUP make global headlines, prompting calls for transparency. 

Ben Bradshaw in the House of Commons (fair use)

An investigation by openDemocracy has made global headlines this week and triggered questions in the UK parliament about 'foreign and possibly Russian interference in western democracies'.

Citing our series of revelations this week on the 'dark money' that funded the Brexit campaign, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw yesterday asked Andrea Leadsom, the Speaker of the House:

"Has she seen the very worrying series of reports this week by openDemocracy, on the role of dark money in the EU referendum, including revelations of illegal donations to the DUP and new questions today over the real wealth of Arron Banks, the main financial backer of Leave?

Given the widespread public concern over foreign and particularly Russian interference in Western democracies, will she assure this house that the government and the Electoral Commission will examine these reports very carefully and reassure our country that all of the resources spent in the referendum were from permissible sources?"

The story was then quickly picked up by The New York Times, The Guardian, the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

Arron Banks, the donor who gave the Leave campaign over £9m and whose sources of wealth we investigated in yesterday's story 'How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?' declined to comment to reporters following up the story. However he tweeted:

"The series of investigative reports Ben Bradshaw referred to were published by openDemocracy, a political website funded by none other than global George Soros, an expert in 'dark money'."

Screenshot from Leave.EU Twitter used under Fair Use.

openDemocracy's funding sources are listed here.

We invite the same transparency from Mr Banks, and from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist party.

About the author

Mary Fitzgerald is Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy. Before joining oD she worked for Avaaz, the global campaigning organisation, and is a former Senior Editor of Prospect Magazine. She has written for the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman and others. Follow her on Twitter: @maryftz


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