Pro-Brexit Leave.EU group accused of faking videos and forging images of migrants committing crimes

Campaign group led by former Ukip donor Arron Banks accused of 'fake news' over viral video

Pro-Brexit Leave.EU group accused of faking videos and forging images of migrants committing crimes

Pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU has been accused of faking a viral video of illegal "migrants" and forging images purporting to show immigrants committing violent crimes.

The group, which is led by businessman and former Ukip donor Arron Banks, staged a video that it claimed showed how easy it was for migrants to cross to Britain illegally, according to Channel 4 News.

The video was released in the weeks before the 2016 EU referendum and was watched hundreds of thousands of times. But Channel 4 said satellite data showed that the boat had never left UK waters, and footage appearing to show the "migrants" entering the country was filmed before they left UK shores.

It also reported that Leave.EU had staged images that the group said showed a migrant attacking a young woman in Tottenham, north London.

The photos appearing to show the violent attack were reportedly sent by an associate of Mr Banks to Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU's head of communications.

Channel 4 said leaked emails showed Mr Wigmore had then forwarded them to the group's media team with the message: "Migrants beating up girl in Tottenham Saturday...Can we get this ready to go as a press release."

It is unclear why the photos were seemingly never released.

In response, Mr Banks told Channel 4: “Leave.EU is the biggest viral political campaign in the UK, with 3.7 million engagements last week on Facebook alone, dwarfing political parties and other groups.

“Channel 4 is packed with ex-Guardian journalists and left wing activists, who create fake news for a living!

“The campaign must be doing something right to annoy all the right people consistently.”

Leave.EU claims to show how easy it is for migrants to sneak into Britain in 'faked' video

But Labour MP Jo Stevens, a member of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, said: “The video of the boat is very obviously fake and put together in a fake way. The photographs are a little bit more difficult to spot that, but clearly fake news with a deliberate intention of stoking hatred and anti-immigrant feeling and rhetoric.”

Leave.EU has previously been hit with hefty fines by the Electoral Commission in relation to activities during the EU referendum campaign.

The group was fined £70,000 last year for breaking election laws and in March was hit with a further £60,000 punishment for data breaches.

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