Theresa May dodges question on Conservative party links to Cambridge Analytica

Sky NewsTheresa May.
  • A number of Conservative party figures have links to embattled data company Cambridge Analytica.
  • Theresa May refused to address the links when quizzed during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
  • The prime minister said the government currently has no contracts with Cambridge Analytica and believes the allegations engulfing the firm are “very concerning.”
  • Her spokesperson later added that former Prime Minister David Cameron was approached by Cambridge Analytica.

LONDON – Theresa May has refused to address a number of links between the Conservative party and Cambridge Analytica (CA), the British firm at the centre of the Facebook data storm.

CA is at the centre of an international scandal after The Observer revealed it harvested the data of 50 million US voters on Facebook. A Channel 4 News investigation also caught the company’s bosses boasting about using honeytraps, bribes, and fake news to influence elections.

In Prime Minister’s Questions today, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, read out a list of alleged links between Cambridge Analytica and the prime minister’s Conservative Party.

“Can I point out that the parent company of Cambridge Analytica is Strategic Communications Laboratories. It has been run by a chairman of Oxford Conservative Association,” Blackford said.

This was a reference to Julian Wheatland, who tweeted this selfie below on the campaign trail with former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015. Wheatland was chairman of CA’s parent company SCL Group.

Julian Wheatland tweetJulian Wheatland/Twitter

“Its founding chairman was a former Conservative MP. A director has donated over £700,000 to the Tory party,” Blackford continued.

“A former Conservative party treasurer is a shareholder.

“We know about the links to the Conservative party – they go on and on. Will the prime minister confirm to the House, her government’s connections to the company?”

Watch Blackford quiz May on Cambridge Analytica links

The prime minister refused to address the specific cases mentioned but described allegations against Cambridge Analytica as “very concerning” and called for the company and others to comply fully with investigations.

“The right honourable gentleman has been talking about two companies. The parent company, SCL, and Cambridge Analytica. I can say to him that as far as I’m aware, the government has no current contracts with Cambridge Analytica or with the SCL group,” May said.

“The allegations against Cambridge Analytica are clearly very concerning and it is absolutely right that they should be properly investigated.

“It’s right that the Information Commissioner is doing exactly that because people need to have confidence in how their personal data is being used.

“I would expect Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and all organisations involved to comply fully with the investigation taking place.”

A spokesman for the prime minister later told Business Insider that the Conservatives were approached by Cambridge Analytica “under a previous administration but a decision was taken not to go ahead.”

The party refused the services of CA under former leader David Cameron. The spokesperson added that “checks are going on across Whitehall” into the possibility of previous contracts.

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