By Ayshah Tull
Alexandra Phillips has admitted working for Cambridge Analytica’s parent company on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successful re-election campaign in Kenya.
Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips has admitted she secretly worked for Cambridge Analytica on its controversial 2017 election campaign in Kenya.
Ms Phillips – a prominent member of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and former Head of Media for Ukip – made the admission to Channel 4 News after initially strenuously denying any involvement with the disgraced data firm, and pressurising journalists to drop the story.
She backtracked only after Channel 4 News obtained a recording of an interview from 2017 in which she confirms she had been employed by Cambridge Analytica to work for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In a statement released to Channel 4 News last night, Ms Phillips admitted working for SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, on President Kenyatta’s successful re-election campaign.
“That’s libellous, you can’t put this online, my friend.”
Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips denies working for Cambridge Analytica in Kenya, speaking to @Channel4News.
A few days later she admitted working for the firm’s parent company. pic.twitter.com/snsK9re6wf
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 16, 2019
Cambridge Analytica was exposed by an undercover Channel 4 News investigation last year in which company bosses were filmed boasting of dirty tricks and influencing elections across the world.
They were caught bragging about smear campaigns, bribing politicians, and putting “unattributable, untrackable” propaganda on the Internet in a bid to sway campaigns for clients.
The controversial 2017 Kenyan election contest was marred by misinformation with fake news spread across the country via the Internet and on smartphones.
President Kenyatta’s opponent Raila Odinga was smeared with a series of viral videos, including one notoriously depicting apocalyptic scenes if he were to win the election.
Cambridge Analytica strenuously denied any involvement with the content, and any role in negative political campaigning in Kenya.
‘I didn’t work for them at all’
When initially questioned by Channel 4 News on camera, Ms Phillips denied working for Cambridge Analytica, or even knowing anyone on their political campaign team.
She said: “I didn’t work for them at all. That’s libellous.” She added: “I’m being very serious now. You’re actually propagating a load of misinformation that’s been put online… based on nothing.”
She continued: “If you want to talk about the Cambridge Analytica campaign, speak to them, not me. I don’t know them. I really don’t know the people.”
Ms Phillips pressured the journalists to drop the story, before calling her lawyers. She said: “And if you use this online, it’s going to be very difficult, OK… And actually, please don’t pursue that because there’s going to be a lot of things that might be happening over the next weeks, months, which is going to make life very difficult. I’m being serious.
“I’ve never been employed by Cambridge Analytica in my life.”
However, Channel 4 News obtained an audio recording of an interview from 2017 in which she told how she was secretly “employed by Cambridge Analytica” to work for President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.
She said: “I’ve not been able to speak to you because I’ve been under my contract which finished yesterday. So now I’m able to talk. But whilst I’m under contract with Cambridge Analytica, if they’d found that I’d spoken to a journalist about them, then, you know what I mean non-disclosure agreements and all the rest of it… I wasn’t working for Jubilee I was employed by Cambridge Analytica who had the contract with Jubilee.
“I was brought on as a political communications consultant for the Kenya project.
“I’d be writing the president’s speeches and his talking points for rallies and State House statements. I trained their communications team; they’re all sort of journalists who came together to create a press office. So I had to train them up and daily management of that communications team.”
She said the work was so sensitive that she was told “if anyone asks” what she was doing in the country, she must tell them she was working as “an air hostess”.
In the interview, Ms Phillips also claimed the contract was worth £300,000 [GBP] a month, and would add up to a total of around $6 million [USD] for the contract.
She said: “The $6m they got me and another chap who are two of the best in the business at doing this kind of stuff, and paid us nowhere near that much, my friend. The only thing that appals me about Cambridge Analytica was when I realised essentially how much of a money-making exercise they are.”
‘Promoted peace and unity’
In a statement released to Channel 4 News last night, Phillips said: “In Kenya, I worked as a freelance contractor — focusing on speechwriting – with the team of President Kenyatta, who is a great ally of the UK. The campaigns I worked on promoted peace and national unity in a country that I love dearly.
“This work was sub-contracted out to me by SCL, which went on to become a different company. Out of respect for those whom I served, I will continue to respect the confidentiality agreements that I signed upon accepting the role in Kenya.
“And I will not be bullied by agenda-driven, guilt-by-association reporting.”