While Westminster waits patiently to hear the fate of the Deputy Prime Minister – sources close to Raab tell Guido they still haven’t heard anything at the time of going to pixel – up in Holyrood Humza Yousaf is still trying to put out the fire that is the SNP finance probe. After wrapping up FMQs, itself interrupted again by climate protesters, the First Minister spoke to the media regarding the SNP’s finances and the departure yesterday of treasurer Colin Beattie. Yousaf is also now the party treasurer by default, until they find a replacement willing to take up the poisoned chalice…
Yousaf insisted his party is “on steady footing” financially, despite refusing to make a full statement to Holyrood:
“We’re not facing bankruptcy. I’m pleased to say that we are on a steady footing when it comes to the party’s finances. I don’t think parliament is the place to do a statement on the party’s finances. But I have of course instructed a governance and transparency review, and when the report comes in on that review, I’ll make it public… We don’t have an auditor yet. We’re still making progress, still in conversations with a number of auditors.”
Unless they find an auditor soon, the Westminster group will lose access to the short money used to pay staff, as Penny Mordaunt reminded the House this afternoon. The clock’s ticking…
Colin Beattie has confirmed that he is standing down as SNP treasurer and from Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee “until the police investigation has concluded”. In a statement he said:
“This afternoon I informed the party leader that I will be stepping back from my role as SNP National Treasurer with immediate effect.
I have also informed the SNP Chief Whip at Holyrood that I will be stepping back from my role on the Public Audit Committee until the Police investigation has concluded.
On a personal level, this decision has not been easy. but it is the right decision to avoid further distraction to the important work being led by Humza Yousaf to improve the SNP’s governance and transparency.
I will continue to cooperate fully with Police Scotland’s enquiries and it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on a live case “
No surprise to see he’s fully behind continuity candidate Humza…
Nicola Sturgeon could be next in line to face arrest in the SNP finance probe. SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was released without charge last night – pending further investigation – after Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell faced the same fate. Senior SNP figures are now preparing for Sturgeon’s “inevitable” arrest, according to reports in The Times. Another SNP political said “They’ve interviewed witnesses and now they are on to suspects. It was the small fry and now it’s the big people”. Sturgeon is the only senior SNP figure named on their accounts yet to be arrested.
Sturgeon has not yet spoken to police, though it has been reported that she intends to fully co-operate with any investigation. She isn’t in the Scottish Parliament this week – apparently to avoid overshadowing Humza Yousaf. As if the only SNP story anybody is talking about is Yousaf’s agenda…
A Sturgeon arrest could raise yet further questions of the legitimacy of continuity candidate Humza Yousaf’s election. Reports suggest that Peter Murrell had expedited the contest, which followed Sturgeon’s already unexpected resignation. The timing is suspect to say the least. In other news, Kate Forbes has just given an interview to the BBC.
First Minister Humza Yousaf has spoken publicly for the first time since his party’s Treasurer Colin Beattie was arrested in connection with the SNP finance investigation. Yousaf is about to give a speech outlining his “priorities” for the Scottish government going forward, which he admits have been, erm, undermined somewhat by yet another arrest…
“It’s clearly a very serious matter indeed, I’ve said already people are innocent until proven guilty… Of course I’m surprised that one of my colleagues has been arrested, but it’s a very serious matter indeed… it’s certainly is not helpful, of course… I’m not going to take away from the fact that the timing of this is far from ideal.”
Yousaf stressed he does not believe the SNP is a “criminal operation“. This is where we are now. Colin Beattie, like Peter Murrell, still hasn’t been suspended from the party…
Footage: Connor Gillies
SNP treasurer and MSP Colin Beattie has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party. In a statement Police Scotland said:
“A 71-year-old man has today, Tuesday, 18 April 2023, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.
The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives.
A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The matter is active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.
As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
Och aye the noo!