Tory co-chairman Ben Elliot and ex-minister Lord Barker should be sanctioned for acting as 'proxies' for Russians, Chris Bryant says
- Chris Bryant, a Labour MP, called for sanctions on 'proxies' who work with designated individuals.
- He named Ben Elliot, the Conservative party co-chairman facing criticism for Russian-linked donations.
Two Conservative figures - Lord Barker and Ben Elliot - should be sanctioned for acting as "proxies" for Russians who have themselves been sanctioned, a senior Labour MP said.
Barker is a former minister and Conservative peer, while Elliot is the Conservative Party co-chairman.
Elliot, the nephew of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was brought into CCHQ as the party's chief fundraiser by Boris Johnson. Since he took the reins, the party has raised nearly £2 million from donors with links to Russia, Labour claims.
—Anneliese Dodds (@AnnelieseDodds) March 9, 2022
This, along with concerns about his high-end concierge business Quintessentially, which until recently boasted 15 years' experience of working in Russia, led to Tory MPs calling for the party to oust him.
Barker, who is on an extended leave of absence from the House of Lords, has received similar censure for his work with Oleg Deripaska, who has been long sanctioned in the US and on Thursday joined the UK's sanctions list.
Bryant went further than some of his parliamentary colleagues in his call for sanctions on the two men.
Speaking under parliamentary privilege, the veteran Labour MP and standards committee chairman said he was "delighted" by the sanctions announced today, including Oleg Deripaska and Roman Abramovich.
He also asked: "Are we going to tackle the people who have acted as proxies for these people — like Greg Barker, Arron Banks, Ben Elliot?"
Banks is a British businessman, a major donor to the Eurosceptic party UKIP and co-founder of the Leave.eu campaign. The National Crime Agency has previously investigated the source of Banks' funds, concluding there was no evidence of criminality.
Banks has always denied wrongdoing, telling the BBC back in 2018 there was "no Russian money and no influence" behind his political activity.
Bryant in his parliamentary speech said: "The whole House wants to take a full, united approach to this. But we just worry that the UK sanctioned seven people today; the EU – all 27 countries – sanctioned 160 yesterday."
Responding for the government, Commons leader Mark Spencer said the UK has a "robust sanctions regime", which he said would enable UK authorities to "take action against some of the individuals that he named".
However, Spencer added: "I dont think it's helpful to have a running commentary on individual names."
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