Facebook has revealed the lying Brexit ads targeted at British voters by Vote Leave and delivered by a Canadian firm funded by right-wing American billionaires.
The adverts, many with racist and xenophobic messages, cost £2.7 million.
They were seen 169 million times in the last three days of the 2016 UK EU Referendum campaign.
Facebook revealed the targeted ads to the parliamentary digital, culture, media and sport committee this week, two years after the narrow referendum victory for Vote Leave and only 246 days before members of parliament respecting the result of the referendum are expected to vote the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, refused to appear before the all-party DCM committee investigating fake news. The committee threatened ‘a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.’
But despite Zuckerberg’s refusal to set foot in Britain, Facebook has revealed that the Canadian firm AggregateIQ, targeting UK voters for Leave EU, was in turn linked to Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm shut down after misusing personal Facebook data. Both firms had denied they were linked.
Cambridge Analytica and a parent company SCL Elections were heavily funded by the American hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Both worked on the US presidential election for Donald Trump and are both under investigation in the UK and the USA.
The Observer reporter Carole Cadwalladr pointed out yesterday that several official Vote Leave adverts, one stating falsely that Turkey’s 76 million people were joining the European Union, broke UK election guidelines by failing to carry any identity stamp:
This is the fakiest of fake news. And until today we had no idea about any of this…
Aggregate IQ, now under investigation in Canada, was paid £3.5 million in 2016 by Vote Leave and a pro-Brexit youth group known as BeLeave. Vote Leave has been fined £61,000 for overspending a £7 million spending limit by moving £675,315 to an Aggregate IQ bank account in the name of BeLeave.
The UK Electoral Commission has referred two members of the Vote Leave team to the police.
In the first 24 hours of this week’s Independent Final Say online petition, 245,000 voters and over 100 MPs of all parties demanded a fresh vote before the UK leaves the EU. In a parliamentary debate the Conservative MP Sir NiIcholas Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill said:
The whole damn thing needs to be blown up and started all over again.
Willie Sullivan, senior director of the Electoral Reform Society said,
So-called dark ads undermine the chances of a balanced national conversation – with thousands of potentially contradictory or misleading messages going out to small groups of voters.
A simple solution is to extend the imprint requirements for physical leaflets and letters to electronic material. That’s a practical change ministers could make now.
As an immediate step to achieving greater transparency, all digital adverts paid for by the official Brexit campaigns should now be released.
As for respecting the result of the 2016 referendum, Tribune hereby cites an international legal maxim:
Fraus omnia corrumpit: Fraud negates everything.
It’s the principle in both English and Napoleonic law under which the discovery of fraud invalidates all aspects of a judicial decision.
The concept of fraud refers to situations in which a person attempts to gain rights granted by a rule of law on the basis of deception, malicious intent, or dishonesty. Yet, according to the principle fraus omnia corrumpit—‘fraud vitiates everything’—a person can never rely on a fraudulent act to justify the application of a rule of law to his own profit. Thus, this principle will refuse the application of a rule of law which is obtained on the basis of fraud. In this way, the principle fraus omnia corrumpit operates as a corrective mechanism to the absolute and unlimited application of a rule of law through reliance on fundamental moral standards, such as good faith, fairness, or justice.
Or in French:
Cet adage latin signifie que la fraude corrompt tout. Ainsi tout acte entaché de fraude peut faire l’objet d’une action en nullité. On peut retrouver cet adage notamment dans certaines décisions de la Cour de cassation.