Europe

Brexit: Leave campaign fakes migrant footage

Investigation reveals pro-Brexit leader staged photos of migrants attacking women to stoke anti-immigrant and EU fears

Muhammad Mussa   | 17.04.2019
Brexit: Leave campaign fakes migrant footage

LONDON 

The pro-Brexit campaign staged footage of migrants entering the U.K. and attacking women in London prior to the 2016 EU referendum, an investigation has revealed.

The investigation, conducted by local news channel, found that Leave.EU hired actors to pose as migrants and staged photos of them attacking women in London.

The group was also behind a fake video claiming to show how easy it was for migrants to enter the U.K. by boat.

Arron Banks, the businessman who funded the campaign, was in close correspondence with those individuals who staged the photos and video footage, the investigation found, with the video’s producer being in Banks’s own employ.

The material was clearly "fake news with a deliberate intention of stoking hatred and anti-immigrant feeling and rhetoric", said Labour MP Jo Stevens, who is also a part of the culture, media and sports committee.

She called for legal regulation on digital campaigning ahead of an upcoming local ballot and possible general and European Parliament elections.

Two weeks before British voters chose to exit the EU, the Leave Campaign published a video on social media as part of a supposed "undercover investigation" claiming to show footage of migrants disembarking from a boat into the U.K. after crossing the English Channel.

Accessing satellite data from the boat used in the footage, Channel 4 News found the video had been filmed before even having left British waters and that it had sailed to three English ports, as opposed to crossing the channel.

The producer of the video, former soldier Phil Campion, denied that he was personally involved in staging the fake footage.

"I am not deceiving anybody. I didn’t cut the video. I didn’t cut the footage. I gave them the footage they asked me for, okay? I brought people back from France," he said.

Showing a white woman being attacked by a hooded individual in north London, separate photographs depict the same individual harassing another woman in a shop, this time with his face exposed to resemble a white man. The same individual can be seen in the video wearing the same clothes.

Leaked emails revealed that the pictures had been sent to Andy Wigmore, head of communications for Leave.EU, and Banks’ right-hand man. Wigmore then forwarded the pictures to the campaign’s press team requesting a release, though they were not published.

Leave.EU was fined last year by the U.K.’s electoral commission, and referred to the police for failing to report the amount of money it had spent during the campaign, in which it had exceeded the limit as per the electoral law and had illegally colluded with a junior Brexit group.

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