The BBC’s decision to have Arron Banks on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday has led several to criticise his upcoming appearance, including Lord Andrew Adonis.
After it was reported that Banks had been referred to the National Crime Agency over allegations of criminal activity around donations to Leave campaigns, Lord Adonis and others accused the BBC of breaking protocol by having him on before the criminal investigation has begun.
“What other people accused of serious crimes get the opportunity to present their denials and influence the investigation on the BBC?” wrote Lord Adonis on Twitter.
The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Molly Scott Cato also wrote to the BBC to express their concern.
“We are incredulous about this decision by the public service broadcaster to allow this dangerous man to spread disinformation at our expense,” they wrote.
The BBC said in a statement posted to Twitter that there is “strong public interest” in the interview.
Banks denies any wrongdoing: "I am confident that a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues," he said.
'Excuse to pause Brexit'
Members of the public also expressed displeasure at the upcoming appearance of Banks.
BBC correspondent John Simpson defended the decision, writing: “The urge to keep people we disapprove of from appearing on our TV screens is very much the same as the desire some university students have to no-platform speakers whose views they disagree with.”
Richard Tice of Leave Means Leave told BBC Newsnight that “Remoaners” were using the investigation as an excuse to try and overturn Brexit.
“Members of Parliament have immediately jumped on this and said we have to pause Brexit… this is part of the Remoaners looking for excuses to extend Article 50,” he said.
'Concealing true details of transactions'
On Thursday it was reported that the National Crime Agency has launched a criminal investigation into Banks and a number of other individuals associated with the Leave.EU campaign.
The Electoral Commission has referred Banks, his campaign Leave.EU, its parent organisation Better for the Country, and “other associated companies and individuals” following its investigation into the 2016 campaign, which focused on a reported £2 million loan to Better for the Country from Banks and his group of insurance companies.
- Read more: If 'nothing is wrong' it does 'raise questions' as to why Leave.EU has been referred to the NCA, says criminal barrister
Another £6 million was reportedly loaned by Banks on behalf of Leave.EU, with £2.9 million used on referendum campaign spending and donations to other groups.
The Commission says it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect Banks of a number of potential criminal offences, including, along with other associated people “concealing the true details of these transactions” and not being the “true source” of the donations.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw wrote to the Prime Minister the following day, asking her whether she or anyone else had ever declined a request to investigate Banks.
“I have today written to the prime minister to ask if she or any other minister or senior official has at any stage declined a request from any of our security, intelligence or law enforcement agencies to investigate Banks,” Mr Bradshaw said on Friday.