UK judge approves warrant to search Cambridge Analytica offices


London (AFP)

A British judge on Friday approved a warrant to search the London offices of Cambridge Analytica, the scandal-hit communications firm at the heart of the Facebook data privacy storm.

London's High Court granted the request by UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who is investigating claims that the firm may have illegally acquired Facebook data for political ends.

A full explanation of the decision will be given on Tuesday, according to the court.

The data watchdog is looking into claims that Cambridge Analytica, used by Donald Trump during his primary campaign, illegally mined users' Facebook data and then used it to target potential voters.

Cambridge Analytica's chief executive Alexander Nix has been suspended after he was exposed in a sting by Britain's Channel 4 News, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to issue a statement outlining his firm's role in the scandal and apologise.

Cambridge Analytica denies any wrongdoing, and said Friday it was undertaking an independent third-party audit to verify that it does not hold any of the data.

"As anyone who is familiar with our staff and work can testify, we in no way resemble the politically-motivated and unethical company that some have sought to portray," acting CEO Alexander Tayler said in a statement.