(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — An opportunist! That’s how United National Congress (UNC) public relations officer Anita Haynes described Christopher Wylie who worked with Cambridge Analytica (CA) and conducted data mining and analyses in T&T.
Her comments came hours after yesterday’s frontpage T&T Guardian article headlined “Sex, Spies and Lies” involving the contents of Wylie’s new book Mindf*** which details the work CA did in 2013 that paints T&T a dark picture of the data collected and used by the then People’s Partnership government under Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s regime.
Haynes in a press release issued yesterday described Wylie’s claims against the UNC as untrue and the party “will now look at our legal options against all persons involved in spreading this defamatory information.”
The Government, she said has started “a conspiracy theory” in the lead up to the 2020 general election against the Opposition without fact-checking Wylie.
“These members of the National Security Council should tell the country at what point they reported Mr Wylie to the police for spying on T&T? 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, not provided a shred of evidence, no report that he wrote for his alleged employers in Trinidad.”
Nor has Wylie, she said produced a contract or cheques that proved he was hired and paid.
The entire matter, Haynes said was a far-fetched fairytale.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Haynes said Young’s press conference yesterday “doubled down on the stupidity” by again raising the allegations.
Weighing in on the issue, political analyst Dr Winford James said a simple denial by the UNC was not good enough.
“How can we show that the claims are true or false. The UNC seems to have a big obligation here beyond denial.”
James said the allegation is based on spying which violates people’s privacy.
Wylie is insisting that the UNC retained CA to access private citizens’ data which is bad for the party.
“The UNC has to show that these allegations are wrong.”
With the December 2 local government elections around the corner, James said PNM has raised the issue again for the masses to consume, understand and do something about.
“Whether it is going to persuade and convince people who are sitting on the fence. I don’t know if that is sufficient to win over people on the fence. I am not sure that it is sufficient to prevent an exodus of supporters from the UNC. The onus is on the UNC to clear the name. They have to be concerned in the way they clear their name.”
Any party that has such claims hanging over its head so close to an election, James said “has to worry and wonder” whether their responses to these claims are going to make their supporters believe that the other political party has manipulated circumstances to put them in a bad place.
Political analyst Professor John La Guerre said CA has been associated in several fraudulent reports and conclusions.
“However it’s alleged involvement in local politics is a bit disturbing.”
La Guerre said the CA scandal was a new development which seems to have broader implications if true.
“These things are not easily put to rest.”
If Wylie’s accusation about porn has some truth in it, La Guerre said one has to investigate if this violates a person’s privacy.
“If CA could do it with impunity others may think they can do likewise.”