Russian Linked Leave.EU Figures Targeting Elections Worldwide
Andy Wigmore, one of Leave.EU's front men (alongside Arron Banks and Nigel Farage) doesn't speak to me any more.
A former diplomat for Belize, he is pictured above with Nigel Farage outside the Eisenhower Building just before they went to meet US Vice President Mike Pence, according to Wigmore's Instagram.
The last time Wigmore and I had a chat on Twitter was prior to the publication of my recent book, Alternative War, and the conversation led to some clarification around the shady DUP deal, tied in with Farage's relationship with Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, explained Leave.EU's election operations in Lesotho, and left open questions their expanding data operations – including Big Data Dolphins (based in Bristol and Mississippi).
Despite the fact Wigmore doesn't talk to me, I still get tagged in conversations and, as ever, this invariably ended up with me taking yet more information back to the Electoral Commission.
Back on the 21st of April 2017, the Electoral Commission (EC), the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK, released a statement confirming they had “begun an investigation into Leave.EU’s EU Referendum spending return.”
This inquiry relates to Leave.EU employing the services of Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm employed by the Trump campaign and subsequently linked to Russia election interference in the UK and US through the much larger investigation in the book Alternative War.
By May 2017, following the start of investigations at Byline Media and previous work elsewhere, including the Guardian, the ICO had also launched a formal, significant inquiry into Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica.
Only yesterday (25th of September), however, Andy Wigmore had taken to Twitter and, by what he said, you'd assume the investigations were finished and a clean bill of health had been granted to Leave.EU, kicking every conclusion to the contrary into the long grass.
Wigmore wrote: “That's not illegal - paid them no money so broke no rules as the @ElectoralCommUK will happily confirm.”
I called the Electoral Commission to have this confirmed, but the response wasn't quite the one Wigmore indicated I would get.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission, having consulted senior colleagues, confirmed: “The investigation into Leave.EU is still ongoing and due to this we cannot comment on specifics. But Leave.EU remain under investigation.”
Just to be sure, I also contacted the ICO, who provided me the following update on their inquiry: “Our investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes, announced by the Information Commissioner on 17 May, remains ongoing. We intend to publicise our findings later this year.”
So, no clean bill of health there. But Wigmore carried on talking to others on Twitter, including Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr. Yet more spilled out when she put questions to him. It appears Leave.EU are actively diversifying worldwide.
In Wigmore's words they are: “Part of Goddard Gunster - splitting California for starters and a dozen referendums.”
This is intriguing news, and though I asked Andy directly if they were involved in Catalonia, the Kurdish independence referendum, or others, he hasn't yet replied.
Catalonia, we now know, has been a target of Russian interference. First came the deployment of Russian asset Julian Assange, acting as a disruptive force true to the distinct pattern in all previous Russian activity. And, latterly, more direct engagement has become clear, as publicised yesterday by the EU STRATCOM team – who are part of Europe's defences against Russian disinformation war.
Kurdish independence is also on the radar, in particular due to Russia's installed leader Edrogan already threatening military intervention.
Of course, Farage himself had also become involved as a supporter in the AfD's shocking and chaotic rise to the Bundestag - another operation of Russia which we knew about in advance, because of Alternative War, as recapped is this article yesterday.
All of this happened on the same day Farage spoke at an Alabama rally, endorsing a controversial candidate alongside former Trump strategist Steve Bannon – head of Breitbart and once a board member of Cambridge Analytica.
Interestingly, the company – who spent a long time distancing themselves from any involvement in elections, and even deleted the elections section from the parent company website (SCL) – once tried to put me off their trail, aggressively denying all sorts in an unfounded complaint.
Since then, they've been eyeing up China – with Bannon in tow, of course – and, most curiously, have now decided using pyschographics or psychometrics in elections is okay after all. So they are back to talking about it and admitting they do it.
"Enabling somebody and encouraging somebody to go out to vote on a wet Wednesday morning is no different in my mind to persuading and encouraging somebody to move from one toothpaste brand to another," said commercial VP Richard Robinson, at an advertising conference this month.
I contacted Goddard Gunster, asking whether or not Wigmore's claim was true, what they are doing, what the company is called, where it is based, and where it is operating.
As yet, the PR firm, who specialise in elections, have not yet replied.
Subsequently, it's going to be worth all of us watching ongoing referendums and elections with great interest. Because the patterns we can now identify are clear for all to see.