Nicola Sturgeon ‘told SNP members not to ask about finances’3 min read
Police continue the search of Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell's house
Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP not to ask about party finances, it has been claimed. Party insiders have alleged that the then First Minister ordered the SNP’s ruling body to stop asking questions about the party’s finances soon after Police Scotland started investigating the party. It has been claimed she tried to prevent the National Executive Committee (NEC) from asking questions about more than £600,000 which went missing from party accounts.
The money had been raised to fund a second independence campaign.
Sources claimed that Ms Sturgeon told a recorded meeting of the NEC in August 2021, a month after police launched an investigation: “We don’t need to talk about the finances. The finances are absolutely fine.”
One source told the Sunday Mail that Ms Sturgeon told the meeting that “there was nothing wrong with the accounts and that people should stop talking about it because it was undermining the party”.
They claimed: “It’s fair to say she was pretty raging about it.
“She went on at some length telling everyone that everything was absolutely fine and that it shouldn’t be discussed.”
The NEC was discussing a report, commissioned by Keith Brown, the SNP’s deputy leader, after the financial concerns were first raised.
In the final paragraph of the report, Mr Brown said transparency could be increased if the SNP prepared a “monthly written summary of income and expenditure, confirmed via the bank account.”
The recommendations were never implemented.
The SNP is currently subject to a police investigation into whether £600,000 earmarked for independence campaigning was diverted elsewhere in 2021.
Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell was arrested on Wednesday and released without charge 11 hours later as part of an investigation into the funding and finances of the SNP.
On Saturday, the Daily Express revealed that a former SNP office bearer sent an email to Mr Murrell, in which he offered the then chief executive a “clear plan” to “fix what was going on before things got out of hand”.
The email, seen by Express.co.uk, saw Mr Henry tell Mr Murrell he has been contacted by people “all over the country” blasting “failures of the party.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Henry claimed: “I told him that the party will be damaged and members will leave.
“If indeed money had to be spent on things that weren’t for the purpose then they should come clean and tell the membership [what] they spent it on.”
The SNP’s accountants resigned on Friday in another knock for the party.
Accountants Johnston Carmichael, which has worked with the party for more than a decade, said the decision was taken after a review of its client portfolio.
An SNP spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Johnston Carmichael will not be providing audit services to the SNP this year.
“The National Treasurer is undertaking a tendering process for alternative provision, and we have advised the Electoral Commission of that position”.
There has been a heavy police presence outside the home Mrs Sturgeon shares with her husband this week, as well as a major police presence at the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh.
Mr Murrell – who had been chief executive since 2000 – stepped down earlier this year for unrelated reasons.
He said he had planned to step down after the SNP leadership contest had concluded but was doing so earlier than planned because his “future has become a distraction from the campaign”.
The SNP has been contacted for comment.
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