O’hara steps down as SNP culture spokesman
BRENDAN O’hara has unexpectedly stepped down from his role as the SNP’S spokesman for culture and media at Westminster.
A senior party source said the MP for Argyll and Bute had left his role for “personal reasons” but declined to say anything further.
It is believed Mr O’hara announced his decision at the SNP Group meeting in the Commons earlier this week.
He was appointed to the culture brief after the June 2017 General Election.
The backbencher, a former TV producer, hit the headlines last month after questioning Brittany Kaiser, the former director of Program Development at Cambridge Analytica (CA), which became embroiled in controversy over its use of Facebook data and political tactics.
During a session of the Commons Culture Committee, of which he is a member, Mr O’hara highlighted a claim the consultancy had “worked on three UK election campaigns”.
But he appeared shocked when Ms Kaiser suggested there had been meetings between CA and the SNP.
The revelation led to a series of media stories and calls for clarity from political opponents about what contacts the Nationalists had with the under-fire consultancy.
SNP headquarters released what it said was all of its correspondence, which showed email exchanges, a meeting in London and a conference call.
However, the party leadership repeatedly insisted there had been no formal relationship with CA, which Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister, denounced as “lying cowboys”.
The SNP called on other parties to reveal what contacts they had had with the consultancy.
Earlier this month, CA announced it was closing down.
The party source stressed Mr O’hara’s decision to step down was not connected to CA media coverage.
He has had a successful career as a TV producer. He wrote, produced and directed STV’S Road To Referendum documentary series and has worked for Sky Sports and the BBC.
Mr O’hara is succeeded in his culture and media role by Hannah Bardell, the MP for Livingston. Her previous portfolio of trade and investment is taken on by Stewart Hosie, former SNP deputy leader.
Brendan O’hara has left role for ‘personal reasons’.