U.K. Lawmaker Calls for Inquiry Into Hedge Funds’ Use of Private Brexit Polling

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. lawmaker Bob Seely called for a parliamentary inquiry into the use of private polling data by some of the world’s biggest hedge funds betting on the 2016 European Union referendum.

Seely, a Conservative member of parliament for the Isle of Wight, joins a growing chorus of British lawmakers calling for an investigation into the practices revealed by a Bloomberg story on Monday.

”I think there is a prima facie case here which is concerning,” said Seely, who is pro-Brexit, during a debate in parliament on Wednesday. "Given the Bloomberg investigation earlier this week which showed that hedge funds have been buying private polling data that effectively allowed them to front run the Brexit vote, isn’t it time to initiate a parliamentary inquiry into the behavior of those involved?"

A seven-month Bloomberg investigation found that hedge funds bought private polling data from at least six companies before and during the Brexit vote to gain advance information on the likely outcome of the referendum, including data that would have been illegal for them to give to the public. One pollster sold a private exit poll to a fund that matched the results of a public poll it gave free to Sky News and was aired shortly after polling stations closed at 10 p.m.

Labour Party member George Foulkes said earlier this week that the practices revealed by Bloomberg were “astonishing” and that “the case for statutory regulation of polling companies is now overwhelming.” He said he would raise the issue in the House of Lords. Peter Mandelson, another Labour member of the House of Lords, told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday that he would endorse calls for a Parliamentary inquiry.

Alastair Campbell, former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman and a prominent Remain campaigner, appealed on Twitter for Damian Collins, chairman of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, to investigate.

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