The Tories are reportedly paying a smear firm with multiple senior Conservatives at the helm to dig up dirt on Labour. Tory sources confirmed the party is using the UK arm of Trump’s personal favorite political attack group.
The UK Policy Group, a private company appointed to carry out opposition research for the Conservatives, has two ex-Number 10 officials advising them. Sources have revealed to The Mirror that the firm deep dives into the personal histories, online videos and posts of Labour candidates. Evidence is then compiled into dossiers for the Conservatives. The information is then reportedly leaked to right-wing websites and newspapers to back-up negative articles on the Labour Party.
It is understood that this is the first time that one of Britain’s political parties has stood accused of outsourcing its attack research to an external company; a tactic frequently used in US elections.
The firm in question, launched in January 2017, was originally registered with Companies House under the name UK Rising Ltd, according to official documents. The UK Policy Group is the London branch of Definers Public Affairs, the elite US opposition research firm set up by two senior Republicans, Matt Rhoades and Joe Pounder. Rhoades ran Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 bid for the White House, while Pounder is the former head of research for the Republican Party.
A number of former Tory high flyers now work for the research firm. The staff include ex-Number 10 staffers and former Conservative Party researchers. The firm’s UK vice president is Andrew Goodfellow who was, in another life, the Conservative Party’s director of policy and research. Staff also include the Tory party’s former head of media monitoring and a former member of George Osborne’s own communications team.
Official documents have revealed that Ameetpal Gill, David Cameron ’s former director of strategy, was given the OK by authorities to accept a contract advising the firm through Hanbury Strategy, his own political strategy company.
Theresa May’s former Director of Government Relations Chris Brannigan is a member of the UK Police Group’s advisory board, but he has said that he is not involved in opposition research. “I advise them on the strategic political scene and interpretation of political activities,” he said. “Dull stuff.”
The Conservative Party, UK Policy Group Ltd, and Goodfellow have not commented.
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