REVEALED: How one of Nigel Farage’s most prominent supporters has repeatedly called for closer ties with the Kremlin

One of Nigel Farage’s most prominent supporters has repeatedly called for closer ties with the Kremlin, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. 

Jonathan Mappin – who this weekend hosted a Reform rally where candidates were ‘all cheering’ Farage’s controversial comments about the West being to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – has said ‘being friends with Putin is very smart. We love him’.

Mappin, 59, an heir to the Mappin and Webb jewellery family and a practising Scientologist, has previously employed Farage on the advisory board of his company, Dutch Green Business.

He owns the three-star Camelot Castle hotel in Tintagel, Cornwall, which hosted Friday’s Reform rally and told this newspaper the roomful of candidates ‘were all cheering’ when they heard Farage’s controversial comments.

After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Mappin said it was a ‘gift for the freedom of the world’ and that he stands with the ‘Russian Bear’. 

And last June, Mappin and his wife Irina attended a private event hosted by Andrey Kelin, Russia’s ambassador to London, at his residence in Kensington, and later said ‘we were extremely warmly welcomed’.

One of Nigel Farage’s most prominent supporters has repeatedly called for closer ties with the Kremlin

Jonathan Mappin, 59, this weekend hosted a Reform rally said 'being friends with Putin is very smart. We love him'.

Jonathan Mappin, 59, this weekend hosted a Reform rally said ‘being friends with Putin is very smart. We love him’.

Last night Mappin told the MoS: ‘I’ve said what I’ve said about the issue to be helpful to this country. I’m not paid by Reform or Farage, I’m just a friend, and I’m an independent thinker.’

Outrage over Nigel Farage’s claim that the West was to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepened last night with President Zelensky accusing him of being infected by the ‘virus of Putinism’.

The extraordinary intervention adds force to the growing backlash against the Reform leader’s claim that EU and Nato expansion had given Vladimir Putin a reason to justify war.

He has also branded Volodymyr Zelensky ‘murderous’ and said the Ukrainian leader forced ‘every Nato citizen… to fund his Nazi operations’.

This newspaper has also compiled a damning dossier of 22 Reform candidates who have expressed sympathies for Putin and his invasion, or endorsed false claims aligning with Moscow’s propaganda machine.

After being condemned by Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, Farage compared the row over his comments – made during an interview with the BBC – to the ‘Russia hoax’ – the term used by former US president Donald Trump to dismiss claims he had colluded with Moscow. In an address to supporters in Clacton, Essex, where he is standing, Farage said: ‘We are back to the Russia hoax, just as we have been in America for year after year.’

Although there has been no official reaction from Kyiv, a source from President Zelensky’s office told the BBC: ‘The virus of Putinism, unfortunately, infects people.’

Farage's controversial comments were condemned by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Pictured: Mr Sunak shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to the Presidential Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, to announce a major new package of £2.5billion in military aid to the country over the coming year, on January 12, 2024

Farage’s controversial comments were condemned by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Pictured: Mr Sunak shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to the Presidential Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, to announce a major new package of £2.5billion in military aid to the country over the coming year, on January 12, 2024

In other election developments:

  • Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick uses a Mail on Sunday article today to effectively launch a bid to succeed Rishi Sunak, calling for the Tories to meet the threat of Reform by tackling ‘unsustainable’ immigration and bringing back Boris Johnson – but said Farage should have no place in the party;
  • Farage told the MoS that he would be prepared to join forces with Jenrick and former Home Secretary Priti Patel – but not with Boris unless he apologised for mass immigration and net zero;
  • Starmer’s chief of staff Sue Gray is said to be planning to keep control of Labour’s ‘supermajority’ of MPs by shutting the Commons bars;
  • Fears were raised that Labour’s ‘hidden tax rises’ could spark a 1970s-style ‘brain drain’ amid claims wealthy executives are already quitting the UK.

In his BBC interview with Nick Robinson, Farage also spoke of his ‘admiration’ for Putin as a ‘political operator’ but insisted he disliked the Russian leader as a person.

The Reform leader sent a video message to the Cornwall event apologising for his absence.

The MoS dossier of Reform candidates who have expressed sympathies for Putin includes Andrew Husband, standing in North Durham, who has branded President Zelensky ‘evil and corrupt’ and ‘a dictator’. He has also falsely claimed Ukraine is ‘the child trafficking capital of Europe’ and that the country had committed an eight-year ‘genocide’ against Russian speakers. In another post he shared false claims that Alexei Navalny, the late Russian opposition leader and Putin’s fiercest critic, died due to a blood clot caused by the Covid vaccine.

Angela Carter-Begbie, who is standing in Queen’s Park and Maida Vale, has said ‘Putin wants peace – it’s the West that don’t’, that ‘Ukraine was horrible to the Russians first’ and that ‘Putin put his people first’.

John Clark, standing in Bangor Aberconwy, described Putin as ‘sane and reasonable’. He has also said supporting Ukraine was ‘not in Britain’s interests’ and replied to Lord Cameron’s support for Ukraine by saying: ‘You are asset-stripping our country to pay for your globalist friends to expand their empire.’

Hamish Haddow, in Chipping Barnet, falsely claimed Boris Johnson ‘stopped the Ukraine peace talks on request by [Joe] Biden’ and said ‘every Ukrainian death [is] firmly on Boris’.

Teresa DeSantis, in Chichester, said Boris was ‘acting like Zelensky’s rent boy, touting for war’ while Jack Aaron in Welwyn Hatfield called Putin’s use of force in Ukraine ‘legitimate’ and likened him to Churchill. Malcolm Cupis, in Melksham and Devizes, compared calls for Ukraine refugees in the UK to be exempt from car registration fees to ‘ethnic cleansing’. Peter Morris in Melton and Syston, claimed the war was about ‘the US defence budget’ while Jack Brookes, in Birmingham Erdington, claimed Boris ‘kept the war going’.

In a statement clarifying his position, Farage said: ‘Putin was wrong to invade a sovereign nation and the EU was wrong to expand eastwards.’

And in today’s Sunday Telegraph, he said he would not apologise for ‘telling the truth’ and that he was the victim of a ‘slur’ by the ‘political establishment’.

He wrote: ‘I am not and never have been an apologist or supporter of Putin. His invasion of Ukraine was immoral, outrageous and indefensible. I have never sought to justify Putin’s invasion in any way. But that doesn’t change the fact that I saw it coming a decade ago. What I have been saying for the past ten years is that the West has played into Putin’s hands, giving him the excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway.’

Home Secretary James Cleverly said Farage’s remarks were ‘echoing Putin’s vile justification’, while Sunak said: ‘What he said was completely wrong and only plays into Putin’s hands.’

Former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace likened Farage to the ‘pub bore… who often says ‘if I was running the country’ and presents very simplistic answers to… complex problems.’

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