A SECOND key figure in the SNP’s digital operation was in contact with the controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica, The Herald understands.

Two sources have told this paper that Chris Jones, the party’s head of data and technology, was in touch with CA in early 2016.

The SNP has previously only admitted that an "external consultant" – identified this week as the party’s former new media boss Kirk J Torrance – met CA once in London.


(Kirk J Torrance)

Despite Nicola Sturgeon insisting her party has shown “complete transparency” over its dealings with the company, Mr Jones’s role has so far not been acknowledged.

One source said Mr Jones initiated contact with the under-fire data analysis firm in an email sent on February 7, 2016, at 7.09pm.

READ MORE: SNP consultant who met Cambridge Analytica named as key figure in party's digital operations

In the email, he allegedly introduced himself as being involved in the SNP’s voter identification and targeting strategy, and said he was keen to have a chat.

Both sources said a conference call was then set up with Mr Jones, Mr Torrance and representatives from CA.

It is understood the data firm was keen to travel to Edinburgh, but a meeting was arranged in London because Mr Torrance was due to visit on other business. Mr Torrance was the only SNP representative at the meeting.

In a statement, CA said a further phone call was then exchanged, before the SNP got in touch to say that while it was keen to work with the firm, the timing wasn’t right due to the EU referendum.

The SNP previously admitted to the London meeting, but refused to name the consultant involved. It came after claims of contact emerged from former CA director Brittany Kaiser during evidence to a Westminster committee.

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A spokesman for CA said: “Cambridge Analytica spoke with two SNP representatives on a number of occasions in early 2016.

“These contacts included the SNP’s initial approach to us, a conference call, a meeting in London, a number of emails and a further phone call. Our discussions were about providing the party with a platform to help manage their data.

“The SNP were keen to work with us, but they said that the timing was not right. We can only assume that comments from a former SNP consultant describing the company as “cowboys” are an attempt to distance himself and the party from further media scrutiny."

He added: "Given our expertise, it should come as no surprise that we have spoken with representatives of every major UK political party.”

Scottish Labour's campaigns spokesman Neil Findlay said CA’s statement "directly contradicts what the SNP has been saying for a week now".

He added: “Enough is enough. The SNP must answer basic questions over its dealings with Cambridge Analytica."

READ MORE: SNP held meeting with Cambridge Analytica but dubs them 'cowboys'​

CA is embroiled in claims it amassed the information of up to 87 million Facebook users without permission to target voters.

Mr Torrance was the SNP's New Media Strategist from 2009 to 2011, before helping its election efforts through his company Industrial New Media from 2011 to 2016. Mr Jones has been the SNP’s head of data and technology since December 2014.


Yesterday, a spokesman for CA hit back at the SNP branding the firm “cowboys”, adding: “We’re cowboys that keep phone and email records.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Cambridge Analytica simply can’t keep their story straight.

“Last week they falsely claimed multiple meetings with the SNP in London and Edinburgh. At the weekend they ludicrously claimed the SNP secretly supported Brexit. And yesterday in parliament the firm was accused of lying about not using data sourced from Facebook profiles.

“To confirm again, a meeting was set up in London. One person attended it on our behalf. Attempts by Cambridge Analytica to follow up the meeting were not reciprocated.

“The SNP has never worked with Cambridge Analytica, used any of its services or paid them a penny.”