Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley appeared to respond with sarcasm as Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith declared today that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has closed investigations into the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Cambridge Analytica, a controversial now bankrupt British consultancy firm, were accused—by former employee turned whistleblower, Christopher Wylie—of illegally accessing the data of local citizens so as to manipulate the result of elections in Trinidad and Tobago.
The firm, according to claims in Whylie’s book and a Netflix series, was invited to do so by then United National Congress (UNC) political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. The UNC, using a ‘Do So’ campaign supposedly concocted by the British company, won the elections.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jayson Forde, claimed the TTPS tried to reach Wylie by telephone, Whatsapp, e-mail and written documents. However, they have now given up on the case.
Rowley was unimpressed.
“I presume that the authorities in the British Parliament and the US Congress are delirious and the Trinidad mentioned in all these proceedings is not a real place,” stated Rowley, on his Facebook page, “but a location in a movie on Netflix and all the subject of someone’s imagination.
“This is my Cambridge Analytica comment on the closure, in Trinidad, its birthplace, as it remains wide open and troubling in England and America.”
Earlier today, Griffith sought to assure the country that the TTPS investigation was untainted by political influences.
“We have seen that most of these investigations are usually political, which means at times about half the country may not be pleased with the results,” said Griffith. “But as I said, we are not here to please anyone. And if you don’t like the results, well, that’s your problem.”
Griffith was a national security advisor to Persad-Bissessar for the 2010 general election campaign and was appointed as Minister of National Security in the 2013 under the UNC-led coalition government, the People’s Partnership. However, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said Griffith was not involved in Cambridge Analytica’s business on the twin island republic.
Griffith declined to respond to Rowley directly but said the Police Service did not operate based on ‘emotion, hearsay, or rumour’.
“I don’t comment on reactions by anyone after a Police investigation,” said Griffith, when asked for his view on Rowley’s reaction to the TTPS decision. “As a professional Police Service, we investigate and give findings based on evidence, not emotion, hearsay, or rumour. Unless and until someone can provide such leads or evidence, then this matter remains closed by the TTPS.”
The Cambridge Analytica case was not the only investigation shut down by the police today as the TTPS also said it found no proof of payments made by A&V Drilling to the prime minister—as alleged by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal.
The closure of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, though, appears to draw a line under one of the biggest political controversies of this millennium.
The British consultancy firm, which combined misappropriation of digital assets, data mining, data brokerage and data analysis with strategic communication during various electoral processes, became synonymous with digital political corruption and claimed to have helped in the election of current US president Donald Trump.
However, last November, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi told the Trinidad Newsday that Wylie was hesitant about coming to Trinidad to give evidence, due to warnings from unknown persons that he should stay away.
“Mr Wylie, from the instructions that were given to me, agreed that TT was the victim of Mrs Persad-Bissessar and her government,” said Al-Rawi. “And he agreed that Cambridge Analytica had abused the laws and the people of TT.
“[But] he has not committed to a final giving of evidence. But I can say with certainty—from my interviews with him as Attorney General of TT, in the presence of my UK lawyers—that Mr Wylie has a lot to say.”
While Al-Rawi claimed to have met Wylie on several occasions, Forde said the TTPS was not as lucky.
“The allegation is that sometime in the year 2009 or 2010, data analyst and author Christopher Wylie had accessed electronic data of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago with the intention of interfering with the electoral process of this country,” said Forde. “[…] The information we got was that Wylie was somewhere in the United Kingdom. As such several attempts to communicate were made with several persons and organisations that we felt could have assisted our investigations.”
“[We] had no responses from these persons and organisations we had reached out to. In light of that, we are stumped and as such the TTPS is closing this investigation pending the emergence of evidence to support the investigation.”
UNC PRO Anita Haynes suggested last year that Wylie’s link to her party’s 2010 electoral success was a ‘conspiracy theory’.
“To date, Mr Wylie has never clearly stated his role and has not named a single person in Trinidad with whom he was working or liaising,” stated Haynes, “not provided a shred of evidence, no report that he wrote for his alleged employers in Trinidad.”
Griffith insisted the TTPS did its best for the public and was not motivated by either political party.
“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service does not have an obligation to give these final reports to clear or to charge anyone,” said Griffith, “or to please anyone or to deliberately affect anyone. All of our investigations (are) independent and impartial.”