POLITICS
21/03/2018 13:09 GMT | Updated 21/03/2018 20:15 GMT

Theresa May Challenged Over Tory Links To Cambridge Analytica

PM says government has no 'current' contracts with data firm.

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Theresa May has said the government has no “current” contracts with Cambridge Analytica or its parent company SCL Group.

The prime minister said the allegations about the activities of the data companies are “clearly very concerning”.

Speaking during PMQs on Wednesday, May said Facebook should also “comply fully” with any investigation. 

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of acquiring and misusing the personal data of millions of Facebook users. Both firms deny the allegations.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, had challenged May over Tory party links to SCL Group.

He said the firm had been run by a chairman of Oxford Conservative Association.

“Its founding chairman was a former Conservative MP. A director appears to have donated over £700,000 to the Tory Party. A former Conservative Party treasurer is a shareholder,” he told MPs.

“We know about the links to the Conservative Party. They go on and on.”

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SCL Group has been a Ministry of Defense contractor in the past.

Mark Turnbull, the firm’s managing director, was invited to speak to Foreign Office staff in February 2017 on the topic of “examining the application of data” in the election of Donald Trump.

The Daily Mirror reported today that Cambridge Analytica offered to help the Conservatives fight a general election when David Cameron was leader - but the party did not take up the offer.

May told the Commons today:  “As far as I’m aware the government has no current contracts with Cambridge Analytica or with the SCL group.

“What we have seen in Cambridge Analytica, the allegations are clearly very concerning. 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 that is taking place.

“I’m pleased to say that the bill we are bringing forward on data protection will strengthen legislation around data protection and give the Information Commissioner’s Office tougher powers to ensure organisations comply, and I would hope it would be supported from everybody across this House.”

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that the Ministry of Defence had previously had a contract with SCL, but this had ended before the recent allegations came to light.

“We are looking across Government to see if there were any other contracts,” said the spokesman. “As the Prime Minister said we are not aware of any current contracts.”

Cambridge Analytica approached the Conservative Party under David Cameron’s leadership with a pitch for work, but this was rejected.

Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, was last night suspended by the company.

He had been secretly recorded by Channel 4 boasting that the firm used a combination of data, fake news as as well as prostitutes to help clients win election campaigns. 

The Cambridge University academic who developed a personality app which harvested data from 50 million Facebook users says he has been made a “scapegoat” for the scandal.