The SNP are the “most transparent party” in Scotland, its depute leader has declared, amid the ongoing probe into finances.
Keith Brown said First Minister Humza Yousaf is addressing outstanding transparency concerns and acknowledged “internal challenges” the party is facing.
The row erupted within the party after the resignation of former chief executive Peter Murrell after he denied the membership has dropped by around 30,000, which the SNP later confirmed to be correct.
A police investigation into how more than £600,000 donations earmarked for independence campaigning were spent is ongoing.
Mr Murrell and former treasurer Colin Beattie were arrested and then released without charge pending further investigation.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Brown said: “In the meantime, we are one of the most transparent parties in the UK, you will have a very good idea of the SNP membership … do you know what the membership numbers are for the Scottish Tories or the Labour Party in Scotland?”
When challenged on the remark, he added: “You can’t just gloss over the fact they haven’t misled us (on party numbers), they haven’t told you.
“We are the most transparent, most successful party … in Scotland.
“We have to increase that transparency. It is my ambition – and I know that it’s Humza’s – to make sure that we are the most transparent party in Scotland and that we set the standard for transparency and shame other parties.”
Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy appeared on the programme after Mr Brown as he called the remarks “bizarre” and claimed the SNP is “addicted to secrecy”.
In an earlier interview with Sky News, Brown also said he had not been notified until recently that party auditors Johnston and Carmichael had resigned.
The First Minister only learned of the revelation after he replaced Nicola Sturgeon in the top job – despite the auditors stepping aside in around October.
Brown said he only became aware “shortly” after the news became public. However, he said it was standard practice that Mr Yousaf would not have known prior to taking the role as he was not on the party’s national executive committee where these issues were discussed.
The SNP are searching for new accountants in time for the submission of audits to the Electoral Commission in July.
Following the interview, Mr Hoy said: “Keith Brown must be living in a parallel universe to claim that the SNP are one of the ‘most transparent’ political parties in the UK.
“If the shocking events of the last few weeks have proved anything, it’s that the SNP’s addiction to secrecy goes even deeper than anyone thought.
“The SNP is in meltdown and Keith Brown’s attempt to dismiss the arrests of his party colleagues as merely ‘internal challenges’ is simply laughable.”