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Boris, tell Vote Leave data firm to cooperate with watchdog!

by Hugo Dixon | 26.04.2018

Boris Johnson says claims that Vote Leave cheated during the referendum are “utterly ludicrous”. Why then is the Canadian data firm used by the official leave campaign seemingly refusing to answer questions from our Information Commissioner’s Office? If Johnson, who fronted the Vote Leave campaign, is correct then Aggregate IQ (AIQ) would have nothing to fear from answering the watchdog’s questions in full.

Claims that Vote Leave cheated centre on the fact that it gave a sister organisation called BeLeave £625,000 in the last days of the referendum campaign because it was bumping up against its spending limit. The money was never paid to BeLeave but was, instead, paid straight to AIQ. Vote Leave used the same obscure Canadian data group for its own social media advertising.

Three whistleblowers have now produced evidence suggesting that Vote Leave and BeLeave coordinated their activities. (See the key claims here and here). If the two groups did coordinate, then Vote Leave may have broken spending limits. Lawyers have sent a dossier of evidence to the Electoral Commission saying there is a “prima facie” case that Vote Leave committed offences.

Both the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are investigating the matter. But the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, says that AIQ is not cooperating – contradicting the testimony of its executives earlier this week in front of Canadian MPs.

Denham told the Guardian: “The Canadian company AIQ has so far not answered the substance of our questions in the ICO’s investigation. Contrary to the statements made to the Canadian parliamentary committee about cooperation, in recent correspondence we were advised that the company would not answer any more questions from my office, stated it was not subject to our jurisdiction, and considered the matter closed. We are considering the legal steps available to obtain the information.”

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It’s frankly unacceptable that a company that played such an important role in our referendum should apparently be hiding behind its foreign jurisdiction to avoid answering legitimate questions about its conduct.

It’s not just pro-Europeans who should be outraged. The millions of Leave voters should be too, as indeed are the three whistleblowers, all of whom backed Brexit. It is important for them too that the referendum was won “fair and square” to use Johnson’s words.

What better way of discovering whether there was cheating than by cooperating with the probe. Johnson should use his immense prestige to tell AIQ to stop flannelling and answer our watchdog’s questions.

When allegations of cheating by Vote Leave were first published, a solicitor for the company told Channel 4 News: “Vote Leave has twice been cleared on this matter by the Electoral Commission… As has been the case throughout, Vote Leave is obligated to review – to the extent it can after this long elapsed period since the referendum – all such allegations, and is doing so. We will as appropriate share any relevant findings with the Electoral Commission, again as we have always done.”

AIQ at the same time said: “AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates. It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity.”

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

2 Responses to “Boris, tell Vote Leave data firm to cooperate with watchdog!”

  • After many years of watching a variety of parties quietly sell off bits of the UK, crucify our industries and lower our standards of education and health care, Boris was a breath of fresh air. Jolly good fun! We all loved him as Mayor! But, what a hopeless and derisory Minister he is now. The sad thing is that with backing from the likes of Aaron Banks and the less than respected media, he still gets a hearing. Hang on, there may be hope yet. Eventually maybe ‘the great British Public’ will take note of the facts. Not necessarily on the ones they read on the side of a bus……and widely publicised by the press and BBC.