First there were the revelations about Cambridge Analytica. Then came the other companies within the same orbit - SCL and Aggregate IQ. Following this was the realisation that many connected with the EU referendum Leave campaign had made a series of claims about how one or other of those organisations had helped them achieve the result they wanted. Now has come the hard reality.
Banksy, Wiggy and pals in happier times
We were told time and again that the Brexit data scandal was a “non-story”. Mercenary pundit and Ashcroft water carrier Isabel Oakeshott wangled her way on to the paper review sofa of The Andy Marr Show (tm) so she could shout down Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer, for which she should now hang her head in shame. Because those who were so intimately involved in the affair will now have to testify before MPs.
And the main event is undoubtedly going to be former Cambridge Analytica head man Alexander Nix, who had previously “refused to appear before a parliamentary inquiry into fake news, citing an investigation by the information commissioner about the firm’s use of data”. DCMS Committee Chairman Damian Collins was unimpressed.
Dominic Cummings - chance to join the real world
“We have taken advice from the parliamentary authorities on this matter. He has not been charged with any offence. The subjudicary rules do not apply in these cases as there is no ongoing legal proceeding”. As a result, Nix “has been summoned before MPs. Committee chair Damian Collins has now issued a formal summons for him to appear on Wednesday 6 June. Should he refuse he is likely to be held in contempt of Parliament”.
Collins has not minced his words: “Mr Nix has been given multiple opportunities to appear and clarify his evidence to the Committee, but now we expect him to appear on June 6. There are serious inconsistencies between Mr Nix’s original testimony of 27 February, and evidence received under the inquiry since. We are summoning Mr Nix to Parliament to get to the truth about an extremely serious issue”.
Damian Collins - unimpressed with evasive witnesses
Also summoned - perhaps the gravity of his personal situation will now sink in, but don’t bet on it - is Vote Leave’s main man Dominic Cummings. Collins tells “We hoped that Mr Cummings would have responded positively to our requests for him to appear, considering the allegations made against the Vote Leave campaign during our inquiry”. Cummings did not respond positively, and so had to be summoned to appear.
Worse for those on the Leave side who would rather Collins and his committee leave them alone, there are more interesting attendees lined up: as well as Jeff Silvester of Aggregate IQ, appearing next month will be both Arron Banks, “the man who bankrolled Brexit”, and his sidekick Andy Wigmore. Banksy and Wiggy both featured in that photo alongside Combover Crybaby Donald Trump outside his gold lift.
Banksy and Wiggy have also both gone from telling the world how Cambridge Analytica helped them over the win line, to becoming very cagey indeed about its involvement. So it will be interesting to see if they can agree which of those positions is the right one.
We can also see if Dominic Cummings has come any closer to the real world since he went running to the Guido Fawkes blog recently. But don’t bet on that, either.
Bearing in mind that the Brexiteers were hoping for great deals done bigly with the US Trumpettes to help push Brexit through it would be interesting to know, given recent revelations, whether a Michael Cohen has been involved in negotiations and with whom.
I think Cummings is likely to try to defy the summons. Especially if he can find a lawyer. Or fund one. You don't know any rich people who might help him out, do you?
The law is not that clear about imprisonment for contempt.It's regarded unlikely the Commons has power to fine anyone.
The joint Lords/Commons Committee recommended sorting this out "before the issue arises". Now it has.
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