NICOLA Sturgeon has described Cambridge Analytica (CA) as "a bunch of shysters", as the First Minister responded to speculation on the SNP's contact with the firm.

The party said yesterday that an "external consultant" had travelled to London to hear a pitch from the data firm, but felt they were "a bunch of cowboys" and held no further meetings.

Sturgeon did not give more details on that single meeting, but said her party, unlike others, had chosen not to work with CA.

Speaking to The Herald as she left a Holyrood meeting, the SNP's party leader said: “There’s complete transparency. There was a meeting. We decided they were a bunch of shysters, unlike other people who didn’t and decided to work with them, and there was no further contact.”

Brittany Kaiser, a former senior member of CA, told  the Culture, Media and Sports committee at Westminster that a meeting had been held with the SNP.

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

“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.

“I could probably look through some old emails and find some names for you and submit that after this inquiry.”

A spokesman for the SNP 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.”