Former Cambridge Analytica director says company met the SNP

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A former director of controversial political consultancy at the heart of claims that millions of Facebook users' data was harvested to promote right-wing political causes has said the company met with the SNP on multiple occasions.

Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director at Cambridge Analytica, told a committee of MPs that the company met the SNP in London and Edinburgh, but that no work was carried out.

The SNP said a political consultant had a single meeting with the company, but came away with the impression that they were a "bunch of cowboys".

Ms Kaiser was giving evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee about her allegation that Cambridge Analytica's work for UKIP, the unofficial Leave.EU Brexit campaign, and companies belonging to the major Brexit donor Arron Banks saw data improperly shared between different organisations.

In a written statement, Ms Kaiser said "misuse of data was rife amongst the businesses and campaigns of Arron Banks" and claimed that Cambridge Analytica's work for UKIP and Leave.EU "was never reported to the Electoral Commission by the party, the campaign, or our company".

READ MORE: Mark Zuckerberg’s own data shared with Cambridge Analytica

Her allegations have been denied by Cambridge Analytica. The company is facing investigations by data protection and legal authorities in the UK and the USA over its use of data from upwards of 50m Facebook profiles to promote Donald Trump's election campaign and pro-Brexit groups.

Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica and several individuals from its service, accusing the company of breaching its terms of use.

Answering questions from SNP committee member Brendan O'Hara, Ms Kaiser insisted that despite claims reportedly made by the company, Cambridge Analytica never carried out work for a UK political party in a British election, but added: "I do know that we have been in pitches and negotiations with UK parties in the past, such as the SNP."

She went on: "I was not a part of those pitches or negotiations... I believe that there were meetings that took place in London, where individuals came down to visit us in our Mayfair headquarters, and then further meetings were undertaken in Edinburgh, near the parliament."

Ms Kaiser did not clarify when the meetings took place or who was present, but said: "I could probably look through some old emails and find some names for you and submit that after this inquiry."

Her comments were greeted with audible surprise by committee members, with a shocked Mr O'Hara asking the witness to "allow me to follow that particular stag into the forest".

Ms Kaiser's offer to follow up with the committee on Cambridge Analytica's meetings with the SNP were greeted with a "yes, please" from another committee member.

A spokesman for the nationalists 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."

READ MORE: Cambridge Analytica compromised Facebook data of ‘87 million’