Chris Wylie furious over emotional trauma gay campaigners have been forced to endure
Chris Wylie has given evidence condemning the treatment and scapegoating of two gay Brexit campaigners by Cambridge Analytica and Brexit-influencing sister group Aggregate IQ at a government select committee hearing today.
Wylie, who spent more than two hours detailing Cambridge Analytica’s far-reaching tactics to influence the Brexit vote among other foreign policy manipulations said that BeLeave campaigners Darren Grimes and Shahmir Sanni were “used” by the campaign.
Wylie, who has alleged in a hearing today that he is “absolutely convinced” that there was “a common plan between Vote Leave, BeLeave, the DUP and Veterans for Britain” to use Cambridge Analytica sister company Aggregate IQ in order to secure the Leave vote.
“I supported leave, I’m a progressive Eurosceptic, in spite of my pink hair and nose ring – this is not about Remain or Leave, this is about the integrity of the democratic process,” said Wylie at the hearing.
“Darren was made to be publicly responsible – the amount of emotional trauma Darren has been [put through]. Watching his mental health decline has been unbearable. They persuaded him to quit university to continue,” said Wylie.
Grimes, a fashion student who coordinated the Leave Youth campaign, “continues to be manipulated” by the organisation, insisted Wylie.
“He quit university because they told him to… he was and is a young person who continues to be manipulated,” continued Wylie.
“Why is it not Victoria Woodcock, who deleted the Leave campaign files, that is taking the brunt of this? Why is it not Dom Cummings or Clea Watson? It’s not them, it’s him, the 22-year-old intern,” he said.
“I believe the law was broken in this, and I am so angry that two people that I introduced in good faith to volunteer on a campaign for Stephen Parkinson in good faith that they wouldn’t be used to manipulate the law,” he added.
The whistleblower said that the campaigners – Grimes, who created ads and messaging to share on social media, and Shamir, who was BeLeave’s secretary and treasurer – were told that the campaign and £625,000 donation Grimes had received was above board.
“What they were doing felt legal, so they just assumed if the Vote Leave lawyers told us, this must be the proper way to do it. It was their first campaign, they were proper volunteers,” he added.
Grimes denied to The Observer that there was any collaboration with Vote Leave on campaign material or spending.
“If we allow cheating in our democratic process, what’s happens next time and the time after that? This is not some council race, this is an irreversible change to the constitutional settlement of this country,” said Wylie.
In the hearing, Wylie said that 40 percent of the Vote Leave campaign budget was spent on work from Cambridge Analytica subsidiary Aggregate IQ.
“They took a very calculated slither of the country and blasted them with ads,” he said during the hearing.
“Facebook would have that information, Google would have that information.
“If you get a 5-7 percent conversion rate of people clicking on the ads, donating £10, and signing up to an event, that’s a really good conversion rate… when you scale it that becomes quite impactful,” he added.
“There is every possibility that the Leave campaign would have not won without this.”
Mark Zuckerberg declined giving evidence at the select committee hearing but chose to send a deputy.
Damian Collins, the Head of the select committee, released a statement addressing Zuckerberg’s lack of appearance.
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) March 27, 2018
The whistleblower also revealed that he is not the only source to come forward.
Journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who uncovered the investigation, spoke to “twelve to fifteen” other sources to compile the extent of the manipulation.
Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni broke down in tears during an interview at the Frontline Club over being outed by Theresa May’s press secretary Stephen Parkinson.
“I thought, ‘it’s only Dominic Cummings’ blog, no-one reads that’, so I was mildly panicked. I never thought it would actually happen – I thought, they wouldn’t stoop that low,” he said at the London press club, where he appeared alongside Wylie.
“It was late in the evening that same day, when the New York Times called me and said, can you comment on this statement we’ve been sent by Number 10?
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“I said, ‘what are you talking about?’ and they said, ‘allegations about you being in a relationship with Stephen Parkinson’.
“That’s when my heart dropped. I said, okay, fine. We asked the New York Times to forward the email, and it literally was from a Number 10 email with ‘Statement – official’ and ‘here’s the quote’.”
“It was f**king s**t. I came out to my mum the day before yesterday.”
He added: “I hate talking about it, because I get…” before briefly becoming too distraught to continue speaking.