The real reason Theresa May dodged the question about Tory links to Cambridge Analytica at PMQs today

Theresa May PMQs

On 21 March, Theresa May faced a direct question about Conservative Party links to Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories Group (SCL). And although May denied the government has any “current contracts” with SCL or Cambridge Analytica, she failed to give a direct answer to the question. In fact, she dodged it entirely. Here’s why.

“Worrying number of links”

During prime minister’s questions (PMQs), Scottish National Party MP Ian Blackford said there were a “worrying number of links” and explained these clearly:

Concerns about Cambridge Analytica are not new. But as The Canary previously reported, there are significant links between the party and Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group. It was these that Blackford pointed out to May.

Read on...

Major SCL shareholders include Roger Gabb, a Conservative Party donor:

Lord Jonathan Peter Marland, a former parliamentary under-secretary, also funded the company. Marland is an “ex Tory treasurer” and another party donor:

Then there’s Julian Wheatland, chairman of the SCL board and chair of the Oxford Conservatives:

Wheatland’s Twitter account doesn’t seem to be working right now. But the internet is magic. Because others found out that Wheatland also seems to be quite friendly with David Cameron:

Then there’s SCL president Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Pattie, who was a Conservative MP until 1997. As journalist Liam O’Hare explained for Bella Caledonia:

The President of SCL is Sir Geoffrey Pattie, a former Conservative MP and the Defence Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government. Pattie also co-founded Terrington Management which lists BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin among its clients.

Other SCL shareholders include Nigel Oakes, old Etonian and former boyfriend of Lady Helen Windsor, and Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, chair of Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) – the “worlds largest arms fair”. He was an SCL director in 2007.

SNP MP Patrick Grady said:

Current links? 

At PMQs, May said:

as far as I’m aware the government has no current contracts with Cambridge Analytica or with the SCL group…

She also added that “the allegations are clearly very concerning, it is absolutely right they should be properly investigated”.

But according to The Mail on Sunday, Theresa May’s government was apparently “in talks” with Cambridge Analytica only months before calling a snap general election in 2017. So Green MP Caroline Lucas questioned May’s use of the word “current”:

Further evidence has emerged [pdf] that shows the Ministry of Defence made payments to SCL as recently as 2015. This has led some to ask whether the government might now be slightly compromised:

Blackford asked a very valid question. As did Lucas. But these don’t seem to be questions that May and the Tories are prepared to answer right now.

Get Involved!

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via screengrab.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed