Millionaire who donated £200k to Brexit Party is former Tory donor

Top Tory donor gives £200,000 to Nigel Farage’s surging Brexit Party and defiantly blasts ‘the stormtroopers of the politically correct Brexit reversal conspiracy’

  • Financier Jeremy Hosking, 60,  owns major share of Crystal Palace Football Club
  • Nigel Farage had repeatedly refused to reveal the identity of Brexit Party donor 
  • Urged others who wish to see a ‘proper’ Conservative Party to support them 

The businessman who handed a six-figure sum to the Brexit Party is a former Tory party donor worth £375million, it emerged yesterday.

Financier Jeremy Hosking, 60, who owns a major share of Crystal Palace Football Club, said he has given £200,000 over the past two to three weeks.

Nigel Farage had repeatedly refused to reveal the identity of the businessman who made the vast donation to his new party – originally thought to be £100,000.

But Mr Hosking broke cover yesterday, telling The Telegraph: ‘On a Sunday chat show last weekend it was [claimed] that I have given £100,000 to the recently formed Brexit Party.

‘This is not the case. I have given £200,000, and urge all who wish to see a proper Conservative Party in Britain to support the BP as much as they can. If the Conservatives insist on diluting Brexit, what hope is there on other issues where a robust Conservative position needs to be advocated?

Financier Jeremy Hosking, 60, who owns a major share of Crystal Palace Football Club, said he has given £200,000 to the Brexit Party over the past two to three weeks

‘I apologise to the stormtroopers of the politically correct “Brexit reversal conspiracy” that, inconveniently for them, I am a British citizen and resident taxpayer, not a Russian oligarch.’

Lib Dems lift ban on shamed Lord Steel

Lord Steel has been readmitted to the Liberal Democrats – despite an ongoing investigation into his defence of abuser Cyril Smith.

The Lib Dem peer was suspended in March after he admitted to an independent inquiry that he knew about the crimes of the late paedophile MP but took no action. Lord Steel, 80, even said he would act the same way again, even though Smith went on to abuse other victims. There was fury last night after he had the party whip restored and his suspension lifted.

Peter Saunders, who runs charity NAPAC which supports abuse survivors, said: ‘The message that sends out to survivors and others is that they and the institutions are not taking them or the crimes seriously.’ The Lib Dems declined to comment. 

Mr Hosking described Mr Farage as ‘the only person in a leadership position who has been telling us the truth for 25 years’.

The move, ahead of the European elections, will be seen in Westminster as a signal of growing discontent among Tory donors with Theresa May’s handling of Brexit.

Mr Hosking, who is also an investor in the Flybe airline, has donated to a number of pro-Brexit causes. At the 2017 general election, he gave up to £5,000 each to Conservative candidates in 138 mainly Labour-held seats where most voters backed Brexit but the MP supported Remain.

At the time he said: ‘We need all the Brexiteers on the same side. We can’t do this Brexit thing with half the Brexiteers outside the tent.’

The Cambridge University-educated businessman also gave the Tory Party a £100,000 donation before the last election.

Before the EU referendum he ran a prominent poster campaign and gave £1.7million to the official Vote Leave campaign.

Mr Hosking, pictured in 2016, described Mr Farage as ‘the only person in a leadership position who has been telling us the truth for 25 years’

On March 29, the day Britain was supposed to depart the EU, Mr Hosking ran a ‘Brexit express’ steam train from Swansea to Sunderland to mark ‘the UK’s exit (or non-exit) from the European Union’. Guests included former Brexit secretary David Davis and former Brexit minister Steve Baker.

Economy powers on – and faster than eurozone! 

The economy’s growth gathered pace in the first three months of this year as manufacturing surged and business investment picked up.

Growth hit 0.5 per cent – up from a sluggish 0.2 per cent at the end of 2018 – as firms ploughed cash into new projects. The eurozone grew by only 0.4 per cent, and France by only 0.3 per cent. The UK improvement was powered by the manufacturing sector, which posted its best quarter since 1988 with a rise of 2.2 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It is thought much of this expansion was driven by companies scrambling to meet orders ahead of Britain’s expected departure from the European Union in March.

The increase may also have partly been down to stockpiling, as companies stashed goods and materials to prepare for any potential trade disruption.

Imports of goods and services rose to £179.5billion, up 4.4 per cent in a year, and exports fell 0.8 per cent to £161.2billion. It meant the difference between the two – the trade deficit – rose to a record £18.3billion.

Separately, business investment rose by 0.5 per cent following four consecutive quarters of decline last year.

Experts said the economy was holding up well despite the turmoil in Westminster.

Seamus Nevin, chief economist at Make UK, said: ‘This data would on the face of it show the first flowering of spring, and come as a welcome respite from the more negative economic news of recent times.’

Mr Farage has repeatedly refused to reveal the identities of ‘several’ major donors for fear of exposing them to scrutiny.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme on Tuesday, he said: ‘I’ve said we’ve received one big donation of £100,000 and I can now tell you, we’ve received several more. All of them have been reported to the Electoral Commission and they will tell you who they are.’

Last night the Electoral Commission said it would not reveal the donor’s names – but stressed full details would be published in a report on May 30, seven days after the European elections.

Mr Farage’s refusal to disclose the identities of donors before the vote had prompted some speculation that the names could embarrass the Brexit Party’s campaign.

The party has spent the past month hosting packed-out rallies on a money-making tour of the UK.

Those attending are being asked to pay £2.50 for tickets to the hour-and-a-half-long events, meaning the party has so far generated at least £20,000 in attendance fees alone.

The events are held in large conference halls and evoke the style of American political rallies, with speakers accompanied by rock anthems as they walk to the stage.

Mr Farage has said the party had already raised ‘well over’ £2million to fight the European contests, with 90 per cent of it from some 88,000 people paying a £25 fee to become registered supporters.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he said ‘much bigger donors, traditionally donors to the Conservative Party’ are now in conversations with the Brexit Party. He added: ‘They understand and realise that to fight a general election seriously we are going to need big bucks.’

Commenting on Mr Hosking’s donation last night, a Brexit Party spokesman said: ‘We are very happy that he is backing us.’

The Brexit party leader always says he’s skint. Now we reveal the truth of… Farage’s fortunes 

Special investigation by Richard Pendlebury for the Daily Mail 

What’s your favourite beer?’ It was a patsy of a question, as testing as those which Tory backbenchers once used to lob at the Prime Minister every Wednesday in the Commons before they began lobbing hand grenades instead.

This was not PMQs however, but a Brexit Party rally in Newport, Gwent.

‘Brains,’ Nigel Farage replied. This drew laughter from his 2,000-strong audience, some of whom had queued for hours to hear him speak.

Brains, for those who don’t know, is a popular tipple in South Wales. ‘Did I get the beer right?’ he later whispered to an aide.

Yes, he had. And no doubt his team would provide him with the names of his next ‘favourite’ ales (in Lincoln it might be Bateman’s, Elgood’s in Peterborough etc) as the tour of the UK progressed.

A lack of money, a modesty of circumstance and the contention that he has sacrificed too much financially on the altar of achieving Brexit, has long been a Nigel Farage complaint 

Take his blue double decker Brexit party battle bus. To hundreds of supporters in Clacton-on-Sea last month, it appeared Mr Farage had travelled to the Essex resort on board. In fact, most of the 60-mile trip from London had been made in a chauffeur-driven black Range Rover

Everyone knows Nigel Farage likes a good pint. That’s part of the appeal. On Question Time on Thursday, he was in tub-thumping form and had the audience in Northampton — which voted 59 per cent in favour of Brexit in 2016 — with him all the way.

That his party is running in this month’s European parliamentary elections without a manifesto seemed not to matter either to them or the chanting faithful in Newport. Or indeed in any of the other places selected for their Brexit sympathies to bear witness that Mr Farage is back in the political frontline, like some avenging Leaver Fury.

Less than a month has passed since he launched the Brexit Party with the accusation that Parliament had ‘betrayed’ the electorate by failing to deliver on the result of the 2016 EU referendum. He wants a hard Brexit and he wants it now.

Who do they think they are? Now EU bosses try to hijack OUR elections 

By Claire Ellicott, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Brexiteers hit out at Brussels chiefs for ‘meddling’ in British politics yesterday ahead of the European elections.

To the fury of pro-Leave MPs, Eurocrats spoke of stopping Brexit and even visited the UK to call for a second referendum.

European Council president Donald Tusk said the 2016 result could be reversed in another Brexit vote – and suggested the UK may never leave the EU.

The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, visited London to campaign with the Liberal Democrats and call for another referendum, while an adviser to French president Emmanuel Macron said Paris would not tolerate repeated extensions to the Brexit departure date. Mr Tusk said the chance of Brexit being cancelled was as high as 30 per cent, and the British public did not know what they were voting for in 2016. He also said David Cameron’s decision to call the vote was a political miscalculation and suggested the UK would vote differently now.

Mr Tusk added: ‘From month to month, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK’s exit from the EU will look completely different than the Brexit that was promoted.’

Mr Verhofstadt attended a Lib Dems canvassing event in Camden, north London, with party leader Sir Vince Cable yesterday. He arrived in a coach with blacked-out windows and an entourage of about 20 before knocking on just one door.

Asked if his appearance in a BBC documentary, in which an aide described Theresa May’s Brexit strategy as ‘insane’, was disrespectful, Mr Verhofstadt said the comments had been taken out of context.

The former Belgian prime minister added: ‘It’s not about the Prime Minister, it’s about the situation that was created after reaching an agreement and not having the backing of the DUP.

‘I think it’s important to show that the European liberals and democrats support Vince Cable. Secondly, we want to show by coming here, a message to the continent to say: never repeat Brexit.

‘I’m a Lib Dem. It’s natural that people are looking to the Lib Dems when it comes to European elections.

‘We want to be the alternative for nationalism and popularism. There will be a huge support for Remain.’

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘The Lib Dems want us to be the vassal state of Brussels so it is no surprise that they want the support of Mr Verhofstadt. British voters are quite capable of making up their own minds without interference from bumptious Belgians.

‘There is no mandate for mannerless, meddling mendicants in our elections.’


Since then he has drawn substantial crowds in Clacton (which voted 70 per cent to Leave), Newport (56 per cent) and Peterborough (61 per cent).

Last night a full house was expected at the Epic Arena outside Lincoln — just down the road from Boston which recorded the highest Brexit vote in the UK of 75 per cent.

Tonight Mr Farage is the star turn at another rally in County Durham (57.5 per cent). With all due respect to former Tory minister and Strictly contestant Ann Widdecombe and other Brexit Party luminaries who share his platforms, the thousands who have paid £2.50 for a ticket want to see one man.

Nigel Farage is both a phenomenon and a paradox. Despite having failed in seven attempts — seven! — to become a member of the House of Commons, he can be regarded as perhaps the most successful, certainly the most effective, British politician of his generation.

He came into politics with but one aim: to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union. As the then leader of Ukip, the party’s besting of the Conservatives and Labour in the 2014 European parliamentary elections and the subsequent 2016 referendum result, were his personal triumphs.

With his resignation from Ukip last year (he stood down as leader in 2016) and the formation of the Brexit Party, Mr Farage can claim to have sloughed off the ‘swivel-eyed’ racist element which had tainted his previous political efforts, and the polls suggest that he will repeat his triumph of five years ago come May 23.

Following their humiliation at last week’s council polls, the two main parties continue to be gripped by Brexit paralysis. The voters will signal their contempt — and the EU will be shaken anew.

It is punishment politics and Mr Farage is the punisher. He says the Brexit Party will contest the next General Election and change the British political landscape ‘forever’. So it’s a good moment to take stock now. One of Farage’s most attractive qualities, we often hear, is his transparency; the idea that what you see is what you get; that straight-talking, Middle England, anti-elite, hail-fellow-well-met persona; the Mr Toad check jackets. The familiar expression of gurning delight, as if he has just told a slightly off colour joke in the saloon bar. That is the unadulterated, unpolished Farage.

Rather more opaque has been the matter of Mr Farage’s funding, both personal and political. Political parties have to declare their donations every quarter but at 27 days old, this is not a pressing requirement for the Brexit Party

Mr Farage said at the launch that £750,000 had been raised online in ten days ‘all in small sums of less than £500. I’ve never in my 25 years in British politics seen anything like it’. Under Electoral Commission rules sums of less than £500 do not even count as donations.

Mr Farage had revealed his party had also received a donation of £100,000 from an unnamed individual. Last night the mystery of this angel’s identity was apparently solved when multi-millionaire City financier and former major Tory donor Jeremy Hosking said: ‘I have given £200,000, and urge all who wish to see a proper Conservative Party in Britain to support the BP as much as they can.’

It is a tremendous coup for Mr Farage. He has ascribed his reticence in identifying major donors to the inquisition suffered by Arron Banks, the Russian-linked mining magnate who donated some £8million to the Leave.EU referendum campaign, which he co-founded with Richard Tice, now the chairman of the Brexit Party.

Mr Farage has himself faced awkward questions about Russian links. In December 2017, MP Ben Bradshaw called for the Security Services to look into the relationship between Mr Farage and two oligarchs, one of whom is subject to an EU arrest warrant.

The Brexit Party leader has denied having met the pair, or having received any Kremlin-related money. This month he has also repeatedly denied receiving further funds from Mr Banks. But Mr Farage, or at least his team, are still reluctant to provide detail.

Take his blue double decker Brexit party battle bus. To hundreds of supporters in Clacton-on-Sea last month, it appeared Mr Farage had travelled to the Essex resort on board. In fact his journey had only begun at a petrol station on the edge of town. The rest of the 60-mile trip from London had been made in a chauffeur-driven black Range Rover.

Such luxury is political poison in these days of austerity and no more so than in a place like Clacton. In 2015, the nearby the suburb of Jaywick, was identified by a government study as England’s most deprived neighbourhood.

This was not a subject Mr Farage wished to dwell upon.

When, during his triumphant walkabout — ‘Nigel! Nigel!’ they chanted — the Mail’s representative mentioned the contrast between his reported £4 million Chelsea pied a terre, that Range Rover and the careworn prefabs of nearby Jaywick, and had the temerity to suggest Mr Farage was a person of some financial substance, the Cheshire Cat smile became rather fixed.

His proffered handshake was withdrawn. As he moved off Mr Farage said: ‘You’re wrong, I’ve got one modest house with a mortgage on it.’ (Later, one of his press officers said of the Mail’s interest in his wealth: ‘It’s my job to keep that sort of thing out [of the media].’ His office refused to say who was paying for the chauffeured car or his large security detail.)

Pictured: the Chelsea townhouse Farage shared with Laure Ferrari, 37, the executive director of the IDDE think tank

Recently a Left-wing political commentator wrote that Mr Farage was ‘every pound the career politician he feigns to detest after 20 years riding first class on a personal Brexit gravy train’.

A lack of money, a modesty of circumstance and the contention that he has sacrificed too much financially on the altar of achieving Brexit, has long been a Farage complaint.

Back in 2014 he claimed: ‘I don’t think I know anyone in politics who is as poor as we are. We live in a small semi-detached cottage in the country, and I can barely afford to live there. We don’t drive flash cars. We don’t have expensive holidays. We haven’t done for ten years.’

In an interview with this newspaper in November 2017, he described himself as ‘53, separated and skint’, adding ‘there’s no money in politics, particularly doing it the way I’ve done it — 20 years of spending more than you earn’.

But the EU has always been there as a golden safety net. Mr Farage and the other 730 MEPs are paid a gross monthly salary of €8,757.70 — around £7,549. And, having served as an MEP for 20 years he is entitled to an annual pension of around €73,000 (£63,000) from the age of 63.

HENRY DEEDES: Brussels’ Guy had an entourage bigger than Beyonce’s… 

There is a tradition among boy bands that each troupe contains one member who serves no obvious purpose.

He doesn’t sing, doesn’t dance very well and never seems to speak. He just lurks moodily on the sidelines looking as lifeless as a gargoyle.

There’s a touch of this about Guy Verhofstadt.

He’s the wily Eurocrat you often see on telly chuckling away with Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier, but you don’t know who he is or what he’s actually there for other than to look mildly sinister.

Until this week, that is, when the former Belgian prime minister was the star turn of a BBC documentary detailing the past two years of Brexit negotiations. And what a chilling piece of work he turns out to be.

Guy Verhofstadt, pictured with Sir Vince Cable, is the wily Eurocrat you often see on telly chuckling away with Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier, but you don’t know who he is or what he’s actually there for other than to look mildly sinister, says HENRY DEEDES

One would think after the political ripples the programme has caused that any party with even a smidgen of self-respect would have given this overtly jumped-up creature a wide berth yesterday.

So it is perhaps a sign of how desperate the Liberal Democrats are that they gave Verhofstadt the sort of welcome usually reserved for iffy overseas royalty.

Sir Vince Cable was out on the stump for the Lib Dems’ European elections campaign. The setting was leafy Camden, north London, in a chi-chi square where, according to online property experts Zoopla, even a modest semi will set you back a trifling £3million. Welcome to metropolitan elite central.

The Lib Dems have adopted the slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ – a phrase that barely befits university politics, far less a supposedly serious political party. How such a priggish and cerebral man as Sir Vince signed off on this is anyone’s guess.

As he loitered in the sunshine awaiting his guest, Sir Vince appeared sheepish about how Verhofstadt and his aides had spoken about Theresa May in the BBC documentary. ‘I would rather we treated the British Prime Minister in a properly respectful way,’ he murmured.

Verhofstadt pulled up shortly before 10am in a flashy bus with tinted windows. Shame. I’d rather hoped he might arrive, James Bond-style, in his beautiful Aston Martin DB2 which he likes to enter in vintage car races, but it has a nasty habit of breaking down. He disembarked with an entourage bigger than Beyonce’s, flashing a gap-toothed smile.

Sir Vince had put a suit on but our European hero went for a dress-down Friday look: open-necked shirt, geography teacher’s cardie, Jurgen Klopp specs.

The crowd cheered and whooped and waved their orange placards. One excitable dear planted a smacker on Guy’s chops. Fortunately she appeared to suffer no ill side effects.

Verhofstadt had come to town, he announced, to support the Liberal Democrats in their fight to overturn Brexit. He told the crowd Britain’s decision to leave the EU ‘has done far more damage than has ever been predicted’. More cheers.

‘We want to show by coming here that we’re sending a message to the continent to say never repeat Brexit again.’

How he was going to do this, other than by backing the party polling in fourth place in the EU elections, was not entirely clear.Asked if he felt his presence might be seen as foreign interference, Guy shook his head: ‘This is Europe. I don’t think that for European elections it is interference.’

This answer didn’t sound entirely satisfactory. How British people vote is surely none of his business. Someone asked if he regretted making a claim in the documentary that Mrs May’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins – widely regarded as rampantly pro-EU – asked him for a Belgian passport.

‘It was a funny joke,’ he guffawed. ‘Where is your British sense of humour? I hope that in Brexit you don’t lose that.’ To use an old Spike Milligan line, the Verhofstadt sense of humour is obviously no laughing matter.

Afterwards, he and his new friend Sir Vince went canvassing. This consisted of knocking on one door belonging to a man who intends to vote for the Liberal Democrats.

Then Monsieur Verhofstadt hopped back on his bus and made his escape. A few more of these trips to London and even ardent Remainers will be begging to leave the EU.

But it is MEPs’ allowances which most often attracts the description ‘gravy train’.

MEPS are refunded first-class travel costs and awarded a daily subsistence allowance of €320 (£276) to cover accommodation in Brussels or Strasbourg. They also receive a general expenditure allowance of €4,513 (£3,900) per month to cover office and communication costs.

They can choose their staff and this year the maximum monthly amount available for all costs involved in recruiting personal assistants is €24,943 (£21,500) per MEP. (None of these funds is paid to the MEP themselves.)

And when an MEP leaves he or she is entitled to a generous ‘transitional allowance’ equivalent to one month’s salary for each year served, for a maximum duration of two years. In Mr Farage’s case that would entitle him to some £300,000 before tax. In 2017, Mr Farage was one of eight Ukip MEPS investigated by EU auditors over alleged misuse of funds and in January last year the parliament announced he would have to reimburse some €40,000 (£34,500).

Auditors were not convinced a man being paid as Mr Farage’s assistant was working on European parliamentary matters. Christopher Adams was also the national nominating officer for Ukip. (This week a spokeswoman for the parliament confirmed the disputed amount had now been paid in full by docking Mr Farage’s monthly pay.)

Meanwhile, another row over EU funds linked to Mr Farage rumbles on. The European parliament is seeking to retrieve some €1.295 million (more than £1.1m) in subsidy it gave to the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE), an umbrella group of Right-wing European parties, of which Ukip was the largest.

The parliament is also seeking the return of €668,000 (£576,000) in subsidy from the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe (IDDE), a think tank linked to the ADDE. It is alleged that the monies had been misspent on national political matters — including Mr Farage’s attempt to become a Westminster MP — and not on pan-European issues.

A parliament spokeswoman told the Mail the ADDE is challenging the ruling in the courts.

This is where Mr Farage’s politics and financial affairs become entangled with his rackety personal life. He once said: ‘When you’ve lived on the road out of a suitcase, year after year, fuelled by gin and adrenaline all sorts of things happen.’

The Brexit Party leader has been married twice. His first wife was a nurse called Clare with whom he had two children, now both grown up. In 1999 he wed German-born Kirsten and had two further children. The end of the second marriage was signalled by Kirsten in 2017 when she released a statement saying: ‘My husband and I have lived separate lives for some years and he moved out of the family home a while ago. This is a situation that suits everyone.’

This revelation came shortly after reports that her husband was sharing a Chelsea townhouse with Laure Ferrari, 37, the executive director of the IDDE think tank.

The property was owned by a wealthy Farage supporter. Farage himself blustered that it was ‘crackers’ to assume he and Ms Ferrari were having an affair. They were colleagues and the arrangement was temporary while Ms Ferrari sought other accommodation.

She and Mr Farage met in 2007 when he was dining in a Strasbourg restaurant with his Ukip MEP colleague Geoffrey Bloom and they fell into conversation with a pretty waitress — Ms Ferrari. Mr Bloom was so impressed that he almost immediately appointed her his parliamentary assistant. Two years later she was head of public relations for the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group of which Mr Farage is president, before joining the IDDE.

Today she runs a political consultancy in Clapham, South-West London, and lives in a rented flat, while Mr Farage would now appear to be in sole charge of his old family home, that ‘modest’ detached property in rural Kent.

It was re-mortgaged by him in 2017 when his marriage failed, and he bought his estranged second wife and children a similar property, worth £585,000, seven miles away.

Two divorces obviously present a financial burden but fortunately Farage is doing rather well in extra-curricular activities. An investigation last year entitled ‘Moonlighting in Brussels’ by anti-corruption group Transparency International reported that Mr Farage had the highest earnings outside the European parliament of any British MEP and the sixth highest of the 731 MEPs in total.

Mr Farage, who hosts a talk show on LBC, had earned between €590,048 (£509,000) and €790,000 (£681,000) through ‘broadcast contracts’ in the four years since the parliament session began in July 2014. (His exact earnings were unknown as MEPs are required to declare outside earnings only in broad bands.)

Last month, in his most recent speech to the European Parliament, Mr Farage said: ‘I have tried for 20 years to do myself out of this job and I thought I’d succeeded.

‘Little did I realise what the UK political class would do, so the message is: I’m coming back!’

There was a collective groan from the Europhile majority. It looks as if the most important dysfunctional relationship in Mr Farage’s life will continue for a few months yet.

Yesterday it took him to Lincoln for a morning walkabout with Brexit party candidate Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of MP Jacob. Inevitably, it began at a pub.

Hairdresser Merle Donald, 76, told the Mail: ‘I like Mr Farage. He speaks his mind and he tells the Europeans what the ordinary people are thinking. I have always voted Conservative but no more.

‘I am done with them completely. Lots and lots of people I know are changing their minds now and won’t be voting for the main parties again.’

Music to Mr Farage’s ears. He ran smoothly through his repertoire: a gurn, a thumbs up and tea in a Union Jack mug.

There was but one voice of dissent. ‘You’re ruining this country Farage,’ someone shouted.

‘Thank you,’ replied Nigel. Nothing was going to break his stride.

The Farage phenomenon continues apace.

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