THE SNP is at the centre of a hypocrisy row after it emerged the party failed to disclose its contact with controversial data harvesting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Senior MPs were left looking humiliated after a former director of the company claimed it held meetings with the SNP in London and “near the parliament” in Edinburgh.

It comes just weeks after the party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said he was “not aware” of any contact between the firm and the SNP and it would be “pretty hard to believe” there could have been any.

The SNP has repeatedly demanded full disclosure from other parties and Brexit campaigners about their links to CA. Critics hit out at its “jaw-dropping” hypocrisy, while an SNP Westminster insider said the breakdown in communication within the party was “amateurish”.

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A Scottish Government source said no ministers had met CA and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first learned of the meeting when it emerged at yesterday’s committee.

CA is embroiled in a transatlantic scandal over allegations it amassed the information of up to 87 million Facebook users without permission in order to target voters.

Brittany Kaiser, its former director of program development, made the latest claims under questioning from SNP MP Brendan O'Hara at a Westminster committee.

She told MPs: “I do know that we have been in pitches and negotiations with UK parties in the past, such as the SNP.”

Ms Kaiser’s claim visibly surprised Mr O’Hara, and the SNP later denied repeated meetings had taken place.

A spokeswoman 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.”

The party refused to answer further questions about when they meeting had taken place and what had been said, simply adding: “Not saying anything further.”

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Ms Kaiser said she was not part of the pitches and negotiations with the SNP, but could look through her old emails and “find some names” to discover who was involved.

She said: “I believe that there were meetings that took place in London, where individuals came down from Edinburgh to visit us at our Mayfair headquarters. And then further meetings were undertaken in Edinburgh near the parliament.”

In evidence submitted to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee's inquiry into fake news, Ms Kaiser also said the misuse of UK citizens' personal data was "rife" between Brexit campaign group Leave.EU and other businesses owned by its founder Arron Banks.

SNP figures have repeatedly criticised the Conservatives and Brexit campaigners over their links with CA.

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George Adam MSP described the controversy as "staggering" last month, adding: "The reports about the operations of Cambridge Analytica raise very serious questions about our democracy."

And in a press release calling for a fresh probe into allegations surrounding a pro-Brexit campaign group, frontbench MP Stephen Gethins said: “It’s no longer tenable for the Tories to stay silent about this – we need answers.”


Last month, Mr Blackford took Theresa May to task during Prime Minister’s Questions over alleged links between the Conservative Party and CA.

Mr O’Hara declined to comment after yesterday’s Westminster committee, saying a response would be released by the SNP press office.

An SNP source said: “It shows the lack of communication with headquarters. They have exposed someone who has gone into a committee to ask questions with the best of intentions. Those bad decisions are getting made in Edinburgh.”

It was previously claimed Alexander Nix, CA’s former Chief Executive, had “pitched work in relation to the Scottish referendum”, but it is not clear to which side.

Mr Nix was suspended by CA after he was filmed by undercover reporters boasting of using dirty tricks to influence elections, including manufacturing sex scandals.

He was due to give evidence to the Commons DCMS Committee today but pulled out citing an investigation by data watchdogs.

READ MORE: Misuse of UK citizens' data was "rife" between Leave.EU and businesses owned by Arron Banks

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said the allegations of meetings between the SNP and CA were “devastating”.

He added: “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."