Both Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn were praised by an SNP source for the ‘hard work’ to install auditors who now have a tight deadline to avoid the party losing out on £1.2m of Short money
By Lucy Ashton
No wonder the First Minister is smiling. The SNP has finally signed up new auditors after seven months of searching for one as they bid to avoid financial disaster by meeting two looming deadlines.
Johnston Carmichael, the party’s decade-long accountants, quit in September after reviewing its clientele and axing ones perceived to be a risky audit.
This led to fears that the SNP would be unable to file its accounts in time to meet two key deadlines for its Westminster and Holyrood groups.
But now it has been reported that the Nationalists have signed a new contract with an auditor as they look to submit their accounts on time.
Sources told the BBC that they hope to do this. The SNP’s Westminster group risks losing out on £1.2 million of Short Money if it fails to meet the 31 May deadline at the House of Commons, giving the auditor less than 30 days to inspect the party’s accounts.
Meanwhile, the Holyrood group must file its accounts with the Electoral Commission in July or face the body imposing its own accountants.
A source was lavish in their praise for both leaders, Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn. They told the BBC: “Humza Yousaf, Stephen Flynn and their teams have had to put in some shift to fix the situation they inherited but they’ve managed to turn things around
Both men claimed that they had no idea that the SNP had no accountancy firm in place until this year, with the First Minister being told when he won the leadership contest, and Mr Flynn finding out in February.
Critics thought that the SNP may struggle to appoint a new independent business due to the ongoing police probe into the party’s finances.
The next crisis the party face is if the auditors cannot manage to properly audit the books before the May 31 deadline. Mr Flynn previously said that they were having problems finding some and he could not guarantee it would be able to make the 31 May deadline.
This is less than a month away, and puts £1.2 million of Short money at risk. This is cash used to pay for researchers and press officers to help the MPs.
It is public funds supplied by the House of Commons to opposition parties to help them carry out their parliamentary work, with the amount they get based on how many MPs they have.
Two key nationalist figures, former chief executive Peter Murrell, and former treasurer Colin Beattie, were arrested last month as detectives investigated the allegedly “missing” £600k of Indyref2 funds. Both men were subsequently released without charge pending further investigation.
A number of raids were also conducted at key locations, including the marital home Mr Murrell shares with former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the SNP HQ in Edinburgh.
Police also seized a motor-home from outside the home of Mr Murrell’s elderly mother in Dunfermline as they look into a number of purchases made by the SNP.