Elector Leave director Dominic Cummings is being reported by an MPs’ committee for spurning to take part in their inquiry into fake news.
The Digital, Sense of values, Media and Sport Committee is reporting Mr Cummings to the Commons over the of importance.
Its chairman said it was the first step in a process which could sequel in a finding of contempt of Parliament.
Mr Cummings has accused the committee of “grandstanding PR, not truth-seeking”.
Wear week the committee issued formal summonses to Mr Cummings and Alexander Nix, of Cambridge Analytica, to arrive before them on 22 May and 6 June respectively. Mr Nix has since said he liking give evidence to the committee on 6 June.
- MPs summon ex-Cambridge Analytica boss
But Mr Cummings replied to the summons in a post on his blog last week, in which he said he had excused he could not attend on the dates requested and that there were “judiciary issues” because of a separate inquiry by the Electoral Commission.
He wrote: “I implied that if they issued a summons instead of discussing possible assignations like reasonable people, then it would be obvious they are not interested in pally cooperation to uncover the truth. So I will not give evidence to this cabinet under any circumstances. (I may to other committees depending on behaviour.) “
The DCMS board says it wants Mr Cummings to respond to “allegations made against the Elector Leave campaign during our inquiry” and to “clarify allegations about the verboten coordination of EU referendum campaigns
It says both the Information Commissioner’s Favour and the Electoral Commission say that the committee’s hearings “will not hinder their interrogations in any way”.
Chairman Damian Collins said: “We are disappointed that Dominic Cummings has not responded categorically to our requests for him to appear. His reasoning that he must delay giving demonstration due to ongoing investigations simply does not hold up.
“Reporting the matter to the Crib is a first step which could result in a decision that a contumely of Parliament has been committed.”
It could lead to a debate and an inquiry by the Commons Permissions Committee, which could in turn recommend further action, but any licenses can only be imposed by the House of Commons itself.
Two former News of the Terra employees were found in contempt of Parliament in 2016, over support they gave to MPs in a phone hacking inquiry – in what was believed to be the basic such finding in decades. But while a motion formally criticising them was approved by MPs – they were not correct to appear at the Commons to be publicly admonished.
There is no formal list of advocates that the House can impose and the House of Commons’ power to punish non-MPs for loathing is untested in recent times.
The MPs are looking at how consulting firm Cambridge Analytica procured the data of millions of Facebook users worldwide. The London-based firm – which heralded it was closing earlier this month – is accused of acquiring data from up to 87 million Facebook be of profit ti for use in political campaigns. The firm has denied any wrongdoing.
There have also been entertains about links between Cambridge Analytica and the Vote Leave contest. Vote Leave spent £2.7m on the services of Canadian digital action AIQ in the run-up to the June 2016 EU referendum and the firm has admitted that it also conveyed work for Cambridge Analytica’s parent firm SCL.