MPs mull summons as ex-Cambridge Analytica chief Alexander Nix dodges grilling
Suspended Cambridge Analytica Chief Alexander Nix has refused to appear in front of a parliamentary committee.
Mr Nix was due to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s fake news inquiry tomorrow, but he has now pulled out after his legal team cited an ongoing investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The former-CEO previously faced a grilling from committee in February, but he was asked to come before MPs again after revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s business practices.
Committee Chair Damian Collins rejected the embattled ex-Cambridge Analytica chief's argument, and confirmed that he was considering compelling Mr Nix to appear.
“We do not accept Mr Nix’s reason for not appearing in a public session before the Committee,” he said.
“We have taken advice and he has not been charged with any criminal offence and there is no active legal proceedings, and we plan to raise this with the Information Commissioner when we meet her this week.
“There is therefore no legal reason why Mr Nix cannot appear. The Committee is minded to issue a formal summons for him to appear on a named day in the very near future. We’ll make a further statement about this next week."
DATA MISUSE 'RIFE'
Mr Nix’s refusal to appear was announced at the end of an explosive evidence session with ex-Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser.
During her testimony, the former director accused Ukip backer and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks of improperly using customer data gathered by his insurance businesses for political campaign targeting.
“If the personal data of UK citizens who just wanted to buy car insurance was used by GoSkippy and Eldon Insurance for political purposes, as may have been the case, people clearly did not opt in for their data to be used in this way by Leave.EU," she said. “I have similar concerns about whether Ukip members consented to the use of their data."
Ms Kaiser also claimed that data misuse between Mr Banks' businesses and political interests was “rife”, and alleged that she had seen staff working for one of his insurance firms calling customers and asking them to take part in a survey about Brexit.
She also said that Mr Banks had set up his own data company after refusing to pay Cambridge Analytica for work on the EU referendum, and claimed the firm could have broken the law after farming out British citizens' data to a team at the University of Mississippi.
"If the Mississippi team has held or processed UK citizens’ data in the US, I believe that is likely to be a criminal offence; although it is for the empowered authorities to pursue any such question and secure the associated evidence," she said.
But the Vote Leave chief hit back, accusing the Committee itself of peddling "fake news".