COMMONS

Research on Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica strategy published

16 April 2018

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes essays from researcher Dr Emma Briant along with extracts of audio files of interviews between Emma Briant and:

  • Andy Wigmore – Former Director of Communications, Leave.EU (interviewed on 4th October 2017)
  • Nigel Oakes – Founder and CEO of SCL Group (interviewed on 24th November 2017)
  • Sam Patten – Former employee, Cambridge Analytica (interviewed on 23rd July 2017)
  • Gerry Gunster – Chief Executive Officer, Goddard Gunster (interviewed on 30th March 2017)

Chair's comment

"Dr Emma Briant's research gives us a unique insight into the private thoughts of key people at Leave.EU and SCL. The references made by Nigel Oakes from SCL and Andy Wigmore from Leave.EU regarding the propaganda techniques developed by the Nazis are particularly concerning. As Nigel Oakes points out in his conversation with Dr Briant, the Nazis 'leveraged an artificial enemy' to make people scared, and through this to incite hatred of Jewish people.

Andy Wigmore states that he believes that the propaganda techniques of the Nazi's were 'very clever'. He also confirms that exploiting voters concerns about immigration was central to their campaign during the Brexit referendum. Given the extreme messaging around immigration that was used during the referendum campaign, these statements will raise concerns that data analytics was used to target voters who were concerned about this issue, and to frighten them with messaging designed to create 'an artificial enemy' for them to act against.

From Dr Briant’s research, it is also clear that Leave.EU benefited from their work with Cambridge Analytica before the decision was made on which Leave campaign would receive the official designation for the referendum. As Andy Wigmore states, they copied the strategy that Cambridge Analytica had given them. There are understandably more questions about how Leave.EU developed their database to do this, and whether consumer data from other companies they had a relationship was used to support their campaign.

There are also more questions for Alexander Nix about the closeness of his relationship with Julian Assange, given Nigel Oakes's assertion that Mr Nix called up Mr Assange and asked if Cambridge Analytica could help WikiLeaks to disseminate Hillary Clinton's emails, during the US Presidential campaign."

Published papers:

Audio files:

  1. Andy Wigmore – US Campaign (1:24) 
  2. Andy Wigmore – Immigration (1:44) 
  3. Andy Wigmore – Leave.EU methods in relation to Cambridge Analytica (1) (0:30) 
  4. Andy Wigmore – Leave.EU methods in relation to Cambridge Analytica (2) (0:55) 
  5. Andy Wigmore – Nazi use of political propaganda (0:58) 
  6. Nigel Oakes – Brexit (2:45) 
  7. Nigel Oakes – Company relations (1:38) 
  8. Nigel Oakes – Nazi methods of propaganda (1:05) 
  9. Nigel Oakes – Muslims (2:06)
  10. Nigel Oakes – Unethical company (2:20)
  11. Nigel Oakes – Julian Assange (2:43)
  12. Sam Patten – Working in corrupt countries (0:06)
  13. Sam Patten – SCL’s work in Kosovo (0:55)
  14. Gerry Gunster – Cambridge Analytica (0.38)

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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