Aquind director Alexander Temerko says he has 'zero' political influence

The director of the firm planning to bring undersea cables ashore at Portsmouth has said he has ‘zero’ political influence.

Alexander Temerko, who has made donations worth more than £1m to the Conservative Party, told ITV News he has no influence in British politics.

It comes as planning inspectors will start to pore over the £1.2bn Aquind application at a public hearing.

Tory business minister Kwasi Kwarteng will later decide the application's fate.

Business secretary Alok Sharma has recused himself from making the decision. He received a £10,000 donation from Aquind, public documents show.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan last month said ‘alarm bells have been ringing’ over Aquind.

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Mr Morgan said: ‘Hefty sums of money have been paid to the Tories by a Russian-linked firm delivering a major UK infrastructure project affecting my city.

‘Alarm bells have been ringing for some time over the Aquind proposals.’

Mr Morgan's comments come as The Times last month revealed the identity of a ‘person with significant control’ was withheld from the public on the Companies House register. The newspaper said the person was a ‘Russian tycoon’ and has since named him.

The person’s name was withheld by Companies House as they were ‘at risk of serious risk of violence or intimidation,’ the newspaper reported.

In an interview with ITV last month, director Mr Temerko said: ‘I'm absolutely British businessman, I don't have a Russian passport, I don't have any business in Russia - I can support any party.’

Asked if he's buying influence for Aquind, Mr Temerko said: ‘No. Not at all.’

Mr Temerko was asked by ITV if Russian president Vladimir Putin had asked him to do anything.

He said: ‘I don't have any contact with Putin or Putin advisers, and actually I cannot be friend of Putin - absolutely enemy of Putin.'

He added Putin was trying to 'create tension' in Britain.

The Time reported Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis received a £23,000 donation from Mr Temerko.

Mr Lewis told ITV he defends the right of any British citizen to ‘play their part in democracy’.

The online planning inspection meeting will be broadcast today at infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/south-east/aquind-interconnect

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