Ex-SCL employee confirms Labour Party had nothing to do with Lindsay Grant sting operation
By: Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 17, 2018 – Sven Hughes, a former employee of the SCL Group/Cambridge Analytica has confirmed that the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party had nothing to do with the alleged smearing of now Tourism Minister the Hon. Lindsay Grant in the 2010 elections by Strategic Communication Laboratories Group (SCL).
The Party has admitted that the company was employed by them to help with their election campaign and questioned by reporters at a recent press conference, former prime minister and currently Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, indicated that they did hire SCL, but had no role in the Lindsay Grant land deal scandal.
“SCL did work for us. There are some people in this country who want to use Lindsay Grant’s corrupt behaviour and blame us,” said Dr. Doulas, who added that Grant was the only individual to blame in the matter.
“A man (Grant) sat down in a room and decided that he is going to take lands from the people of Constituency Six, sell it at under-price and the difference will be sent to his private off shore account. How Douglas and Labour get into that?
Dr. Douglas explained the role SCL played in their campaign in 2010. “We used SCL to help to manage our elections. We had nothing to do with that. SCL worked for several governments in the whole Caribbean region. In fact I do not know if it was SCL who did that, the news say so but I do not know if it was true.”
Dr. Douglas continued: “If SCL was involved it had nothing to do with us. In fact Dr. Asim Martin was so concerned that he refused to allow that video to be played and viewed at his public rally during the election campaign. It had nothing to do with us and that is a fact. I don’t see how anybody can associate us with it.”
Now Caribbean News Now is reporting that Hughes was interviewed in a podcast by journalist Freddy Gray for Britain’s Spectator magazine, during which he discussed SCL’s work in manipulating election outcomes in the Caribbean in concert with citizenship firm Henley & Partners, in particular, a political sting operation in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Hughes, who is now the CEO of his own company called Verbalization, with a background in psychological operations (“psy-ops”) for the British military, was recruited by the SCL Group, which was the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, to join them as their head of elections in 2009, and he was immediately sent to St. Kitts to work on the 2009/2010 election campaign on behalf of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.
“I went to run the election in St. Kitts and Nevis for the then incumbent prime minister Denzil Douglas, who was, as far as I still know, an extremely good man, a very good candidate with a very good team around him and with good message to tell, and as I joined the campaign, he was losing in the polls as I was led to believe and essentially what we needed to do was put together a comprehensive and coherent messaging strategy and advertising campaign and election campaign, to get his points across in a way that would resonate with the public,” Hughes said.
At the same time, the CEO of SCL, Alexander Nix, put Hughes in touch with Christian Kalin, the chairman of Henley & Partners, with whom he was required to communicate clandestinely “through the use of Skype or through the use of sort of invisible email accounts, which you would neither send or receive an email, but you will save your correspondence into the drafts folder.”
In an earlier documentary exposé broadcast by Britain’s Channel Four, Nix admitted to implementing dirty tricks and sting operations as part of SCL’s elections campaigns, something that Hughes said he was not comfortable in doing.
“I was winning the elections as far as I was concerned… by running a clean campaign and by representing good candidates with clean campaigning skills. In each campaign, there was an occasion where between Alexander Nix and Chris Kalin in some capacity, I don’t know to what extent whose idea it was at the time, but some sort of doubling down sting was introduced to make sure that the campaign won, so in St. Kitts and Nevis the very thing he spoke about on Channel 4 News about paying bribes, yes, that was a technique that they utilized in St. Kitts and Nevis,” he said.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, then leader of the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM), Lindsay Grant, was approached by someone who he believed wanted to make a very substantial party donation just before the election, in return for a corrupt land deal involving buying prime real estate at a reduced rate if he got into power. The individual in question offered him $1 million towards his campaign when he most needed it in the last few weeks of the campaign.
A video recorded by a hidden camera of Grant expressing his willingness to accept the bribe, which he negotiated up to $1.7 million from the original offer, and at the same time explained that he had offshore means by which to hide the money, was posted on YouTube and is widely believed to have been a significant factor in the opposition’s election defeat in 2010.
Notwithstanding his expressed reluctance to become involved in this kind of “dirty trick,” that he thought in any case was unnecessary, Hughes said it could also be argued that setting up the sting revealed the true character of the man.
“As far as it revealed the man who was willing to accept a bribe, sell prime real estate in his country for a devalued price, so as to gain power, there is a moral question there in terms of the ends justifies the means in that instance I would have thought,” he said.