Sturgeon refuses to name consultant who met Cambridge Analytica for SNP
Nicola Sturgeon was pressed on the issue at First Minister’s Questions, but said she would not reveal the identity in case it sparked a ‘witch hunt’.
Nicola Sturgeon has refused to reveal who the SNP consultant was that met with controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica.
She was pressed on the issue by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson who insisted it “looks pretty shifty” the SNP has not given full answers to questions from opposition leaders.
Raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament, Ms Davidson demanded to know when exactly the meeting took place, where it was held, and who was the consultant representing the SNP.
“These are very simple questions to someone who is committed to full transparency,” the Tory leader insisted.
FM: "The SNP has never worked with Cambridge Analytica and neither has the Scottish Government. I don't think the Conservatives or the UK government can say the same thing." #FMQs— The SNP (@theSNP) April 19, 2018
But Ms Sturgeon told her: “I am not going to name somebody who was working for the SNP as a consultant, somebody who has done nothing wrong.
“I am here to answer questions on behalf of the Scottish Government, but I’m happy to answer questions on behalf of the SNP, I’m the leader of the party, and I am not going to name somebody who has done nothing wrong who was working on behalf of the SNP in order that a witch hunt can be carried out into that person.”
During the noisy exhanges in Holyrood the SNP leader also claimed it was the Conservative Party that was “mired in links to Cambridge Analytica”.
The company has been under fire over the use of Facebook users’ personal data in Donald Trump’s race for the US presidency.
Earlier this week Brittany Kaiser, who was the firm’s business development director revealed that while they had not done any work for the SNP there had been “pitches and negotiations” at meetings in London and Edinburgh.
In response an SNP spokesman said an external consultant had had one meeting in London and judged the firm to be “a bunch of cowboys” – with no work having ever been carried out by Cambridge Analytica for the party.
But Ms Davidson hit out, saying: “Here is transparency SNP style – transparency SNP style is fling out allegations at opponents, it is fail to set out your own record, it is deny you know anything about it and then when you are caught out it is giving half answers to legitimate questions.
“When it comes to dealings that others have had with Cambridge Analytica, the First Minister and her party have spent weeks demanding full transparency.
“Yet when it comes to the SNP it took a whistleblower giving evidence in a parliamentary committee before facts even began to be dragged out into the open.
“Now I know the SNP have raised sanctimony to an art form but what stinks here is the reek of hypocrisy.”
Afterwards Labour MSP Neil Findlay joined the criticism of the First Minister, saying: “Nicola Sturgeon revealed today that the SNP met with this firm in February 2016, months before the Holyrood elections and slap bang in the middle of presidential primary season.
“Only in the world of the SNP could refusing to answer who was at the meeting and what was discussed could possibly be considered transparent.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “In terms of the SNP, let’s cut to the chase and get to the numb of the matter. Yes, two years ago, before the concerns we’re talking about now had come to light, somebody on behalf of the SNP had a meeting with Cambridge Analytica.
“We decided we didn’t want to do any work with them, and as a result we’ve never hired them, we’ve never paid them any money, they have never done any work for the SNP and they have never done any work for the Scottish Government.”
However she claimed the links between Cambridge Analytica and their parent company SCL “are many and legion”.
Ms Sturgeon went on to challenge Ms Davidson to say if any of the reported dealings between either the UK Conservative Party or the UK Government and Cambridge Analytica were untrue.