Cambridge Analytica: Investigators raid London offices after search warrant granted

Decision comes four days after Elizabeth Denham says she wants access to records

Harriet Agerholm
Friday 23 March 2018 20:13 GMT
Cambridge Analytica offices searched by Commissioner's Office

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Officers for the Information Commission have begun to search of Cambridge Analytica's central London offices after a High Court judge granted a warrant.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wanted access to records and data in the control of the London-based company amid claims that Facebook data may have been illegally acquired and used for political campaigns.

Ms Denham announced on Monday she would seek an urgent warrant to search the offices, but a hearing on the matter was adjourned on Thursday.

Mark Zuckerberg on Cambridge Analytica: 'I'm really sorry'

The warrant was only granted on Friday evening. Less than an hour later, a group of 18 people, some wearing ICO enforcement jackets, were led by a woman holding a piece of paper that appeared to be a warrant.

They walked up a side set of stairs at the building in New Oxford Street, London, and were seen on the second floor - where Cambridge Analytica is thought to have its offices.

Earlier, the Information Commission Office Twitter account posted: "ICO granted warrant: We're pleased with the decision of the judge and we plan to execute the warrant shortly. This is just one part of a larger investigation into the use of personal data for political purposes and we will now need time to collect and consider the evidence."

Several Twitter users have questioned the delay in obtaining the warrant, including Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow who wrote before Thursday’s adjournment: “Surely unbelievable that the UK’s information commissioner is STILL waiting to see a judge who will grant a warrant to go in and search the premises ... by the time she gets in there how much evidence will be left?”

Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook deny any wrongdoing.

The data watchdog’s investigation includes the acquisition and use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL and academic Dr Aleksandr Kogan, who developed the app used to gather data.

It stems from claims over the harvesting of personal data – and whether it was used during Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign or the Brexit referendum.

Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive Alexander Nix has been suspended while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been called on to give evidence to MPs.

After a hearing at London’s High Court on Friday, Judge Leonard said he would give the reasons for his decision on Tuesday.

Press Association contributed to this report

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