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Latest 22 December 2023

PR firm that works for the Tories and Palantir offers to pay for attacks on us

Leaked emails reveal that the tech giant Palantir has hired Topham Guerin to pay influencers to attack Good Law Project on social media – but the source of the money is to be kept ‘confidential’.

Emails and a secret briefing document reveal a paid-for campaign to attack Good Law Project on social media. Influencers are asked what their “fee expectations” are for agreeing to send two tweets, one a video and the other a follow-up written tweet. Those who accept the offer – which bears the branding of Topham Guerin – are told they must “keep the brand confidential and not tag Palantir”.

The document is explicit that Good Law Project alone is the target:

“They are a not-for-profit campaign organisation and have been extremely critical of the contract being awarded to Palantir. They’re spreading fear that as a result of this contract being awarded, private patient data across the United Kingdom may be at risk.”

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Good Law Project has, indeed, been raising concerns about the £330m deal between Palantir and the Government to process millions of NHS patient records. The company’s founder, Peter Thiel, has supported Donald Trump and has said that the NHS “makes people sick”. And Palantir has worked with the CIA and helped the US Immigration Enforcement agency implement Trump’s punitive deportation policies back in 2017.

We have announced that we are launching legal action – working with a boutique law firm specialising in digital rights – in relation to what we believe to be a lack of safeguards in the way NHS England uses patient data. We want you to be able to set firm limits on what can be shared, including within Palantir’s Federated Data Platform as it is fully implemented.

And we are not the only ones who have raised questions over Palantir’s contract. NHS patients, cross-party MPs, civil liberties groups and many other organisations like the British Medical Association have all done the same.

The email and briefing papers also reveal that Palantir has teamed up with Topham Guerin, a controversial PR firm which worked for the Conservative Party. During the 2019 General Election, for example, the company rebranded the party’s Twitter profile as a fact-checking account and set up a website linking to a fake Labour manifesto.

Good Law Project, described by the New York Times as a “British governance watchdog”, and its founder, Jolyon Maugham, face frequent attacks from senior Tory figures and the Conservative Party’s interests in the press. In 2022, Jolyon Maugham was mentioned ten times in a press release sent out by Rishi Sunak – and branded “Public Enemy Number One” in the Express Newspaper. Maugham and Good Law Project are also subject to frequent attacks in the Daily Mail, the Times and the state backed BBC.

The briefing document discloses that Topham Guerin is prepared to pay for covert hits on its clients’ enemies, and raises obvious questions about the motivation behind other attacks on Good Law Project. The email goes on to say, “We are on a tight timeline for this one and would require a response as soon as possible with content going live before the new year.”

With our wide body of work that holds power to account, including exposing the PPE scandal, we’re used to the dangers of punching upwards. We can and will withstand these attacks. But the forces behind them and the dark money that fuels them must be brought out into the light.

  • Good Law Project is attacked because of the work it does – and the threat it poses to the likes of Palantir and the Government. We can only do this because of donations from people like you, right across the UK. If you can, please support our work.

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