Nicola SturgeonPeter MurrellHumza Yousaf
Today, Humza Yousaf is due to make a speech at the Scottish Parliament setting out his plans for government. However, the news of SNP treasurer Colin Beattie’s arrest by Police Scotland detectives has cast a shadow over the event. Mr Beattie, 71, was taken into custody in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the SNP. This comes two weeks after former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell – Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – was also arrested.
The arrest of Mr Beattie was announced just hours before Mr Yousaf’s speech, and the first minister will inevitably be confronted by reporters with further questions about the investigation. Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy has called for Mr Beattie, Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon to all be suspended from the SNP.
The investigation into the SNP’s finances began in July 2021 after complaints were made about how donations were used. The party raised a total of £666,953 through referendum-related appeals between 2017 and 2020, and pledged to spend these funds on the independence campaign. However, it emerged that Mr Murrell had given a loan of more than £100,000 to the SNP to help it out with a “cash flow” issue after the last election.
Leaked video footage from a virtual meeting of the party’s ruling body in March 2021 showed Ms Sturgeon playing down fears about the party’s finances. The former first minister has already confirmed she will not be attending the Scottish Parliament in person this week. The SNP’s auditors, Johnston Carmichael, quit in September and the party has yet to find another auditor.
The news of Mr Beattie’s arrest has overshadowed Humza Yousaf’s speech today, and raised further questions about the SNP’s finances. The first minister will likely be asked to comment on the situation, although there is little he or anyone else can say at this point given that there is a live investigation in progress. Nevertheless, Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy has called for Mr Beattie, Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon to all be suspended from the SNP.