Brexit: Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings leaks 'fake news' report on alleged misuse of data

MPs have tried to summon the ‘brains behind Brexit’ to the Commons on multiple occasions but he has refused

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Friday 27 July 2018 19:19
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One of the key figures in the Brexit campaign has leaked a major parliamentary report into fake news, which he said “knowingly/incompetently makes false claims” on potential misuses of data during the referendum campaign.

Former Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings, who has faced censure for repeatedly refusing to give evidence to MPs, reportedly declared “f*** the charlatans embargo” when he posted the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report on his personal blog ahead of its official publication on Sunday.

Once regarded as the brains behind Brexit, Mr Cummings has become embroiled in a battle with MPs over their inquiry into fake news, which is examining the alleged misuse of Facebook data during the 2016 campaign.

​MPs tried to summon him to the Commons on multiple occasions but he refused, then accused the committee of “grandstanding” when it tried to hold him in contempt of parliament.

Writing on his blog, Mr Cummings said the report itself was “fake news” and said MPs have “littered their report with errors and misunderstandings about the legal framework for elections”.

He said: “Someone appalled at their dishonesty leaked it to me so I publish it below.

“It is, in keeping with their general behaviour, itself fake news.”

The cross-party committee, led by Tory chairman Damian Collins, had been due to publish its interim findings on disinformation after 18 months worth of parliamentary hearings, written submissions and evidence session.

Much of its focus has shifted towards social media, including the behaviour of tech giants such as Facebook and how the use of personal data could be used in political campaigning and elections.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has also clashed with Mr Collins over his refusal to be questioned in person by MPs.

The row with Mr Cummings stems from the Facebook data scandal, where political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of misusing private information to target voters.

Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign group headed up by Mr Cummings, was dragged into the scandal when whistleblowers claimed it had employed advertising firm Aggregate IQ (AIQ) to put out targeted messages during the EU referendum.

AIQ’s chief operating officer, Jeff Silvester, told MPs the firm had worked for Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL but denied links with the firm itself.

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