Colin Beattie quits as SNP treasurer after being arrested in party finance probe

19 April 2023, 19:19 | Updated: 19 April 2023, 19:24

The treasurer of the SNP has stepped down after being arrested last week.
The treasurer of the SNP has stepped down after being arrested last week. Picture: Getty images

By Jenny Medlicott

The SNP's treasurer has resigned after being released by police without charge in what he has described as a personally difficult decision but essential for "the SNP’s governance and transparency”.

MSP Colin Beattie quit after he was arrested in connection with the police investigation into the party’s finances.

He was released without charge pending an investigation.

In his 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 co-operate fully with Police Scotland's inquiries and it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on a live case."

Humza Yousaf, Nicola Sturgeon's successor as First Minister, thanked Colin for making a decision that is "in the best interest of the party" and said the position will be filled "as soon as possible".

Colin Beattie was arrested last Tuesday as part of the ongoing probe into the SNP's finances.
Colin Beattie was arrested last Tuesday as part of the ongoing probe into the SNP's finances. Picture: Alamy

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The former treasurer also sits on the board for Scotland’s Commission for Public Audit, which scrutinises the watchdog Audit Scotland and is responsible for "appointing a qualified person to audit the accounts of Audit Scotland".

Mr Beattie's membership at the body currently remains uncertain, but a decision will reportedly be made ahead of its next meeting.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has labelled the new job opening in the SNP as the "least appealing" job in Scottish politics.

Meanwhile, members of the SNP have expressed frustration over the timing of the arrest, as the Deputy First Minister says it has overshadowed Mr Yousaf's efforts to give the party a "fresh start".

Nicola Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell was arrested earlier this month amid police investigation into SNP finances.
Nicola Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell was arrested earlier this month amid police investigation into SNP finances. Picture: Getty images

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The SNP is currently under investigation by the Scottish police following concerns about how £600,000 worth of party donations have been spent.

Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon's husband and the former chief executive of the SNP, was arrested earlier this month in connection with the police probe. He was released without charge "pending further investigation".

Deputy First Minister, Shona Robison, said of the probe: "We need to wait for the facts to be established, whether that's through the ongoing police investigation and, of course, the review about how the party is managed.

"And that is really, really important not just to reassure party members, but it is important that the public expect us to get our own house in order, while also focusing as a Government on supporting their households through the cost-of-living crisis."

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