SNP War Chest: Treasurer Colin Beattie arrested by police

MSP questioned in connection with party’s probe into missing referendum cash

Colin Beattie was taken into custody and is currently being questioned by detectives.

By Lucy Ashton

The SNP treasurer was arrested today in connection with a long-running Police Scotland investigation into party cash, allegedly earmarked for an independence referendum campaign.

Colin Beattie, the MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, was taken into custody this morning and is currently being questioned by detectives.  A report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

The 71-year-old worked as an international banker for more than two decades before taking early retirement to focus on his political career in the mid-2000s.

He has served two terms as the party’s treasurer totalling more than 20 years after first taking on the role in 2004.

Beattie lost an internal election to SNP MP Douglas Chapman in 2020 but was reappointed treasurer the following year after Chapman’s resignation.


The arrest of Beattie is the second in relation to the investigation into how more than £600,000 in donations to the party earmarked for an independence referendum had been used.

Earlier this month, former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell was arrested and questioned for more than 11 hours before being released without charge “pending further investigation”.

The SNP head office in Edinburgh was also searched for several hours on the same day.

The investigation – code-named Operation Branchform – was launched in 2021 after several complaints were made to Police Scotland regarding the SNP’s finances.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 71-year-old man has 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 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.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This is yet another deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference. For too long, a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie, LibDems’ Alex Cole-Hamilton and Conservative Craig Hoy.

“And while the investigation spreads, the SNP is still refusing to take the basic step of suspending MSPs who are the subject of police inquiries.  Humza Yousaf’s inaction raises questions – is his priority the cover up to protect the SNP or the people of Scotland?”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “The police investigation into the SNP’s murky finances is consuming the party – and Humza Yousaf has to get a grip of the situation, rather than stand by wringing his hands.

“He must show some leadership and suspend Colin Beattie – along with Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon.

“That is the precedent the party set when politicians such as of Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry were under investigation – and it must be followed here, for the benefit of everyone.

“Colin Beattie should also stand down from membership of the Public Audit Committee until the conclusion of the investigation.

“This extremely serious matter is escalating by the day and everyone in the SNP has a duty to be as transparent as possible about what they knew and when.”

Meanwhile, there has been an eleventh hour call from the LibDems in an attempt to put the skids under Humza Yousaf’s statement to parliament this afternoon.

Responding to the torpedoing of Humza Yousaf’s relaunch, their leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“Today, Humza Yousaf was supposed to set out his government’s priorities, but the complete mess within his party has torpedoed that relaunch.

“This is a government in total paralysis, just at a time when people across the country are struggling to pay the bills, waiting an age for NHS treatment, being left without lifeline ferries and seeing sewage pour into their rivers. Their priorities are not the priorities of this dysfunctional SNP Government.

“Change is coming and Scottish Liberal Democrats will be part of what’s next.”

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