Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener
Conservative party donor Alexander Temerko has told ITV News he has "zero" political influence - despite making more than £1m in donations to the Conservative Party. Following the release of the 'Russia report' earlier this week, the spotlight has fallen on those who may be trying to influence the UK political system. But Mr Temerko said it angered him when people make allegations that he is linked to the Russian state.
He said he was a "British businessman" without a Russian passport or any business in Russia.
He told ITV News: "I'm absolutely a British businessman, I don't have a Russian passport, I don't have any business in Russia... I can support any party and provide any legal business in my country the UK."
Mr Temerko also described himself as "absolutely [an] enemy" of Russian Vladamir Putin, saying the Russian leader only wants to create tensions and "interference" in the UK. He added: "Of course Putin will be, of course, against that and create tension for us, problems for us and if it be possible some interference." His comments to ITV News come after The Times reported that 14 Cabinet ministers and members of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which published its long-awaited report into Russian interference in British democracy this week, had taken money from figures linked to Russia. The committee’s report warned that unnamed Kremlin-linked figures had given money to UK political parties in a move that could see them deployed to “assist” Moscow. The Times listed Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis as having personally received £25,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, a banker and the wife of Mr Putin’s former deputy finance minister, and £23,000 from Alexander Temerko, a former chief of a Russian arms company. Mr Lewis said: "Well, first of all, let’s be very clear, I think people need to just check their facts. "I have, and other colleagues in the Conservative Party, received funds from British citizens. "I absolutely defend the right of any British citizen to play their full part in democracy - that’s voting, that’s donating to political parties.
Brandon Lewis speaks out on donations
"Actually to claim otherwise we’re saying that certain parts of British society - some level of British citizen - has less rights than others. "Some might argue that’s racist. I am absolutely defensive of people’s right to fulfill their full part in the democratic process."