SNP accused of hypocrisy over links to Cambridge Analytica

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The SNP has been accused of hypocrisy over links to data harvesting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica held a number of meetings with the SNP, a former employee has claimed.

Brittany Kaiser, former Director of Program Development, Cambridge Analytica, giving evidence in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select  Picture; PA

Brittany Kaiser, former Director of Program Development, Cambridge Analytica, giving evidence in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Picture; PA

Brittany Kaiser, who was the firm’s business development director, said it had not done work for the political party but there had been “pitches and negotiations” at meetings in London and Edinburgh.

The SNP denied the claim and said talks were held once through an external consultant who deemed the company to be a “bunch of cowboys”.

Cambridge Analytica has come under fire over the use of Facebook users’ personal data in Donald Trump’s race for the US presidency.

READ MORE: Former Cambridge Analytica director says company met the SNP

Ms Kaiser made the comments on Tuesday while giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s inquiry into fake news.

During questioning from SNP MP Brendan O’Hara, Ms Kaiser said: “I do know that we have been in pitches and negotiations with UK parties in the past, such as the SNP.

“I believe that there were meetings that took place in London where individuals came down from Edinburgh to visit us in our Mayfair headquarters and that further meetings were undertaken in Edinburgh near the parliament.”

Ms Kaiser, who left the firm in March, added she did not know who was in the meetings but could “probably look through some old emails” and find names.

The party has since been accused of hypocrisy after leader of the SNP, Ian Blackford took Theresa May to task during Prime Minister’s Questions over alleged links between the Conservative Party and CA last month.

In a statement released later, an SNP spokesman said: “The SNP has never worked with Cambridge Analytica.

“An external consultant had one meeting in London. His assessment was that they were ‘a bunch of cowboys’, which turned out to be true.

“No further meetings were held.”

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Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said the allegations of meetings between the SNP and CA were “devastating” adding: “When Cambridge Analytica’s activities were first exposed, SNP leaders including Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford all rushed to point the finger at political opponents over their links to the firm.

“Now a senior former figure at CA claims that, all along, the SNP has been holding secret discussions with the firm. If true, the hypocrisy from the nationalists is jaw-dropping.”

Scottish Labour campaigns spokesperson Neil Findlay said: “This is a startling revelation which drags the SNP into a transatlantic political scandal.

“The nationalists must offer full disclosure from these meetings as a matter of urgency.”