Former SNP treasurer says he did not know about party buying £110,000 motorhome

Colin Beattie
Colin Beattie says he knew nothing about the motor-home.

By Alistair Grant and Bill Heaney

The SNP’s former treasurer has told reporters he had no knowledge of a luxury motor-home that was seized by the police.

Asked if he knew about the camper van purchase and if he signed it off, Colin Beattie told journalists: “No, I didn’t know about it.”

The Niesmann + Bischoff vehicle, which can sell for as much as £110,000, was seized by police from the home of the mother of Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell at the same time he was in custody and the home he shares with the former first minister was being searched by police.

Mr Murrell, who is the SNP’s former chief executive, was released without charge later that day “pending further investigation”.

Last week, Mr Beattie was also arrested and released without charge as part of an ongoing police probe into the SNP’s funding and finances.

The camper van was reportedly bought by the SNP as an election “battle bus” ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election, but was never used due to Covid rules being lifted.

Mr Beattie was the SNP’s national treasurer between 2004 and 2020, losing the position to MP Douglas Chapman. However, Mr Chapman quit the post in 2021, claiming he was not being given the required information to carry out the job, and Mr Beattie took on the role again.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, left,  said: “This is yet another bombshell revelation that lays bare the chaos at the heart of the SNP. That the treasurer of the party did not know that over £100,000 had been spent on a motor home is mind-boggling. This is a party in melt-down with nothing to offer Scots.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP, said: “This causal admission from Colin Beattie beggars belief. He’s effectively saying ‘Motorhome? What motorhome?’

“He has serious questions to answer over this bombshell revelation. How on earth could someone who was Treasurer, when the accounts featuring this six-figure purchase were signed off, now claim he was never aware of it?

“The murkiness surrounding the scandal-ridden SNP increases by the day. Claims like this make a complete mockery of Keith Brown’s remarks at the weekend that the SNP was one of the most transparent parties in the UK.

Craig Hoy, Keith Brown, Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell and Humza Yousaf.

“Humza Yousaf should have long since suspended senior SNP figures like Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon and Colin Beattie while this investigation is ongoing, but he has failed to show any signs of leadership.

“The SNP are rotten to the core and engulfed in chaos, meaning the real priorities of the people of Scotland – such as the cost-of-living crisis and the state of our NHS – are being completely ignored as a result.”

Speaking to journalists in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Beattie also insisted the SNP’s trouble finding auditors for its accounts was partly due to a “market situation”.

The party’s auditors quit in October and have yet to be replaced, with the SNP Westminster group at risk of missing out on £1.2 million from Westminster authorities, known as Short money, if it fails to submit audited accounts by May 31.

Asked by journalists why the party was having such trouble appointing new auditors, Colin Beattie said: “Partly, that’s a market situation.”

He insisted the SNP is not in danger of going bust. “The SNP is in the black,” he said. Asked if the party was “not going bust”, he added: “We’re a going concern, definitely.”

He reportedly recently told the party’s ruling body the SNP could struggle to balance the books.

Top picture: A camper van similar to the one the SNP are said to have bought for £100,000.

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