Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings found in contempt of Parliament over fake news inquiry

Posted On: 
26th March 2019

Vote Leave campaign chief Dominic Cummings has been found in contempt of Parliament for snubbing an inquiry into fake news.

Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings
Credit: 
PA Images

A report by the cross-party Committee of Privileges found that his refusal to appear in front of another Commons committee "constituted a significant interference with their work".

Mr Cummings had been formally summoned to give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select (DCMS) Committee, which was probing data breaches during the referendum campaign, last year.

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In their report, the Committee of Privileges said it “would have been the right thing” for Mr Cummings to face questions over alleged links to scandal-hit firm Cambridge Analytica.

"The report accepts the DCMS Committee’s views the evidence they sought from Mr Cummings was relevant to their inquiry and his refusal to appear constituted a significant interference with their work," the committee said.

“It concludes that Mr Cummings committed a contempt both by his initial refusal to obey the DCMS Committee’s order to attend it and by his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s order.”

DCMS committee chair Damian Collins accused Mr Cummings of a "total disregard" for the parliamentary process.

He said: "His calculated behaviour to draw out the process and defy escalating orders to attend demonstrated a total disregard for the authority of Parliament, and has now placed him in contempt of the House.

"I welcome the committee’s recognition that Dominic Cummings’ refusal to attend constituted a significant interference in the important work we did under the disinformation and ‘fake news’ inquiry.

“The Dominic Cummings case also highlights the need for Parliament to define in law what its powers should be to require witnesses to attend hearings, and what sanctions should apply if they do not."

Mr Cummings has previously attacked the committee’s inquiry and condemned a DCMS interim report on Disinformation and Fake News for making "false claims" against Vote Leave and other parties.

In a blog post the Leave campaign boss said: “The MPs know Facebook has explained to them that VL [Vote Leave] COULD NOT HAVE used the notorious Facebook data acquired by Cambridge Analytica but they try to provide credibility to these conspiracy theories.

“Further, these MPs have littered their report with errors and misunderstandings about the legal framework for elections, thus spreading further confusion.

“Collins et al have shown no interest in the truth. Now MPs publish a document after months of supposed work that makes basic errors about electoral law which will debase public debate even further.”