Cambridge Analytica worked on Brexit campaign, emails claim

30 July 2019, 11:59 | Updated: 30 July 2019, 13:31

Cambridge Analytica worked directly for Nigel Farage's pro-Brexit campaign group in the lead-up to the EU referendum, according to documents released today by MPs.

The infamous political marketing company analysed UKIP data, which it then gave to Leave.EU, according to the documents, which include internal emails between senior members of Cambridge Analytica, UKIP and Leave.EU.

The documents were supplied to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee by Brittany Kaiser, former director of business development at Cambridge Analytica.

A letter from Ms Kaiser to the committee says "chargeable work was done by Cambridge Analytica, at the direction of Leave.EU and UKIP executives, despite a contract never being signed".

She continues: "Despite having no signed contract, the invoice was still paid, not to Cambridge Analytica but instead paid by Arron Banks to UKIP directly.

"This payment was then not passed onto Cambridge Analytica for the work completed, as an internal decision in UKIP, as their party was not the beneficiary of the work, but Leave.EU was."

The 10 documents include an email from Cambridge Analytica COO Julian Wheatland to UKIP party secretary Matthew Richardson, discussing analysis of UKIP data by Cambridge Analytica for Leave.EU, and an email from Cambridge Analytica's lawyer referring to "the work we have already done for UKIP".

Another email from Mr Wheatland informs the Cambridge Analytica team that "I had a call with Andy Wigmore today (Arron's right hand man) and he confirmed that, even though we haven't got the contract with the Leave written up, it's all under control."

Leave.EU was founded by Mr Farage to campaign for Brexit, and funded by businessman Aaron Banks. The source of Banks's funding is currently being investigated by the National Crime Agency.

Senior figures at Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica have repeatedly denied that the two organisations worked together on the EU referendum campaign.

“They made a pitch to us,” Leave.EU funder Mr Banks told the DCMS committee chair Damian Collins on 12 June 2018, saying there was "no evidence that we went ahead with the pitch".

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix made the same claim, saying in February 2018 that "no company that falls under any of the group vehicles in Cambridge Analytica or SCL or any other company that we are involved with has worked on the EU referendum".

A report by the Electoral Commission found that Cambridge Analytica did not work with Leave.EU.

"I am calling on Electoral Commission to reopen their enquiry to consider this additional evidence," Ian Lucas MP, a member of the DCMS committee, told Sky News.

"This supports my contention that Cambridge Analytica carry out work that Leave.EU later used in the campaign and they ought therefore to have declared it to the Electoral Commission."

Leave.EU was fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission in May 2018 after it was found to have incorrectly reported what it spent at the EU referendum.

Cambridge Analytica became notorious after it was revealed in early 2018 that the firm had collected personal data from millions of people's Facebook profiles without consent and used it for political advertising.

The resulting scandal saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hauled before Congress to explain why he had allowed this to happen.

The group worked for the Trump campaign in the US, but has never been definitively connected to the Brexit campaign in the UK.

Leave.EU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.