Her appearance on the paper review sofa of The Andy Marr Show (tm) was the height of righteous denial: mercenary pundit Isabel Oakeshott shouted down the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr over the Cambridge Analytica revelations, demanding “One provable link” between the Leave campaign and CA. Ms Oakeshott claimed the Observer was “just chasing unicorns”. BBC host Andrew Neil dismissed the Observer story as “hearsay”.
She must have known the “One provable link” was going to come, and sooner rather than later: the Leave EU connection was, after all, claimed unequivocally in Arron Banks’ book The Bad Boys Of Brexit, and that book had been ghosted for Banks by, er, none other than Isabel Oakeshott (she is described as its “editor”).
And so it has come to pass: the links between Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL, and Aggregate IQ (the Canadian company whose lawyers protested that they had no connection with the other bits, honestly) have been remorselessly exposed over the succeeding weeks. And now has come the smoking gun that demonstrates conclusively that Ms Oakeshott has been seriously economical with the actualité.
As Ms Cadwalladr has now told, “the Observer has obtained an invoice that Cambridge Analytica issued on 14 December 2015 for £41,500 for work it undertook on behalf of Ukip. The invoice says the payment is for ‘analysis of Ukip membership and survey data and creative product development’, and it is issued on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC, the American entity, from its office in Alexandria, Virginia. This is the first documentary evidence that Cambridge Analytica did conduct analytics work on behalf of one of the Leave campaigns in the period before the referendum”. Hello provable link.
Then come the reverse ferrets. “Banks confirmed to the Observer that he was also sent the invoice at that time too. He said he subsequently made a donation for the amount to cover the invoice to Ukip. A spokesman for Ukip, speaking to the Guardian last month, denied any payment for the work was made but he confirmed Banks had in fact made the donation after ‘new information had come to light’”. After they got caught, more like.
Moreover, “Banks has long denied that Cambridge Analytica did any work for Leave.EU, as has Cambridge Analytica”. Well, well. There was more shifting of positions: “Ukip had told the Guardian previously that Cambridge Analytica ‘saw’ the data but a spokesman admitted the information - including telephone numbers, email addresses, ages, and other personal information among other things - was given to the company”.
And now we learn that “The Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating Leave.EU and its donor Arron Banks over possible breaches of the Data Protection Act … The ICO has issued ‘information notices’ against both Leave.EU - the referendum campaign headed by Nigel Farage - and its director, Banks”. That is on top of the legal opinion obtained by the DCMS Committee suggesting some of Vote Leave’s people may face prosecution.
Yet there was Isabel Oakeshott howling that there was really no connection between CA and the Leave campaign - with Andrew Neil in full support.
Ms Oakeshott’s credibility was not good before her outburst. Now it’s no longer there at all.