Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will not give evidence to the British parliament on how data on millions of Facebook users found its way into the hands of the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg has declined the summons sent to him last week by the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s head of public policy in the UK, wrote to the committee to tell them about Zuckerberg’s decision and said that either Mike Schroepfer, the chief technology officer, or Chris Cox, the chief product officer, would be sent to give evidence instead.

Schroepfer oversees Facebook’s technology, including the company’s developer platform, while Cox is responsible for the development of core products and features like the news feed. Both report directly to Zuckerberg.

When the committee requested that Zuckerberg appear, committee chair Damien Collins wrote that Facebook had consistently understated the risk of companies acquiring and holding user data, and said that Facebook officials had been misleading.

He continued:

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It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process… Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to “fixing” Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you.

Having received Facebook’s response, Collins seems unwillingly to let Zuckerberg off the hook.

Speaking before today’s committee meeting, he said that he and his colleagues still think Zuckerberg should appear to give evidence and will request again that he does so, via video link if necessary.

Collins said:

He stated in interviews that if he is the right person to appear he will appear.

We think he is the right person and look forward to hearing from him.

Facebook has not given a reason why Zuckerberg declined the invitation, although Stimson’s letter suggests that the recommended deputies will be better placed to answer the committee’s questions.

The letter also claimed that only 1% of the users of the app Cambridge Analytica used to harvest Facebook data came from the UK.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meets today to hear testimony from Christopher Wylie, the whistle blower who previously worked with Cambridge Analytica.