LONDON (Reuters) - A former Cambridge Analytica political consultant said the company’s management misled the British public about work the firm did for a pro-Brexit group before the vote to leave the European Union, the Guardian reported on Friday.
Brittany Kaiser, a business development director at the company from 2014 until earlier this year, said in an interview that Cambridge Analytica was carrying out data crunching and analysis work for Leave.EU, while publicly denying it was doing so.
The insider account puts further pressure on the London-based data analytics firm, which is already facing renewed scrutiny in the United States and Europe over allegations it improperly harvested Facebook data to target U.S. voters.
Late on Friday, a High Court judge granted an application by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office for a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s offices.
The data protection watchdog said in a statement it plans to execute the warrant shortly to confirm the company deleted data from 50 million Facebook profiles, which a whistleblower has alleged it failed to do.
Kaiser, who acted as a spokeswoman for Cambridge Analytica before and after the 2016 referendum, said she was ordered by the company to deny the firm was involved with the Brexit issue.
“I was quite confident that real work was being undertaken,” Kaiser said in a videotaped interview with the Guardian.
“No, we didn’t run the whole campaign and maybe our work wasn’t used, but when I talked to the press we were actually undertaking data work and analysis” for Leave.EU, she said.
Last month, Cambridge Analytica Chief Executive Alexander Nix denied to a parliamentary committee the company worked for Leave.EU, saying only that his firm had met the campaign group to discuss potential business, but did not reach a deal.
“Let me be absolutely crystal clear about this. I do not know how many ways I can say this. We did not work for Leave.EU. We have not undertaken any paid or unpaid work for them, okay?” he told a committee investigating fake news in UK politics.
Cambridge Analytica’s board of directors suspended Nix on Tuesday shortly before British broadcaster Channel 4 aired an expose of the firm’s business practices in the United States.
Arron Banks, a major donor to Leave.EU, wrote in “The Bad Boys of Brexit” a campaign diary he published after the campaign that the group had hired Cambridge Analytica on Oct. 22, 2015 to use ‘big data and advanced psychographics to influence people’.
Reporting by Eric Auchard in London; Editing by Adrian Croft