SNP signs contract with new auditors days before deadline

The party is said to have appointed a new firm after the previous one quit six months ago.

SNP signs contract for appointment of new auditors less than a month before party accounts due Getty Images

The SNP has appointed new auditors less than a month before its accounts are due to be filed.

The party signed a new contract with the AMS Accountants Group six months after the previous financial experts quit ahead of the deadline on May 31.

The firm will replace Johnston Carmichael, which resigned in September following a review of its clients.

The SNP Westminster group now faces a race against time to have their accounts in by the end of the month – or risk losing out on £1.2m of Short Money.

The publicly-funded cash is used to help opposition parties carry out their duties, such as employing staff and covering travel expenses.

The party also faces a separate Electoral Commission deadline for July.

Speaking after the announcement, Yousaf said he was “confident” and “hopeful” the party would now be able to file its accounts in time.

He said: “I am pleased to confirm that we have secured the services of auditors to take forward our accounts.

“We take our statutory obligations extremely seriously, so it is welcome news that AMS Accountants Group will complete the accounts for both the party and the SNP Westminster group. 

 “There is hard work ahead, but it is really encouraging to have them on board as we work towards challenging deadlines. 

 “I am very grateful for the work of our new party treasurer Stuart McDonald in securing the auditors’ services. 

“I also wish to thank our previous auditors Johnston Carmichael for their professional work over many years.” 

Stephen Flynn did not know his Westminster group lacked auditors until after he became leader.STV News

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn MP said: “I’m pleased to confirm the SNP Westminster group now has auditors in place – and I’m confident we’ll meet the deadline, as in previous years.

“Throughout this period, SNP MPs have remained focused on standing up for Scotland and supporting our staff.

“We will now redouble our efforts to hold the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party to account for the damage their policies are inflicting on Scotland.”

Both Flynn and Yousaf said they had only found out about the auditor situation after they won their party’s leadership contests.

It comes as the SNP continues to face a police investigation into its finances.

In the past month, the SNP’s former chief executive Peter Murrell – who is Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – and its then treasurer Colin Beattie have been arrested in connection with the police probe.

Both Murrell and Beattie were released without charge pending further investigation.

The Scottish Conservatives will on Wednesday push for a statement on the turmoil engulfing the SNP, claiming it is “in the public interest”.

Led by Douglas Ross, the Tories will use their Holyrood debating time to push for clarity on the financial situation within the ruling party.

Douglas Ross wanted the SNP to make a statement to parliament on its finances.STV News

Speaking ahead of the debate, Ross said: “These questions are not going away for the First Minister and SNP leader, who recently had to step in as the SNP’s acting treasurer.

“He cannot stick his fingers in his ears and claim this is not a matter for his Government, as well as his party, especially if the SNP were to face bankruptcy or an imminent threat to their viability.

“This is clearly also a Government matter if the First Minister is compromised, his hands are tied, or if he has been kept in the dark about his party’s affairs, as was the case with the resignation of the SNP’s auditors.

“Right now, the real priorities of Scotland are being ignored by him and the SNP Government because they are distracted by the meltdown in the party.

“The unacceptable secrecy that has characterised the SNP in Government, on ferries, the Lochaber smelter, the Salmond affair, and many others, is equally evident in its internal financial scandal, and it has to stop.

“The public must have confidence that Humza Yousaf is treating this investigation as seriously as possible and this debate gives him the opportunity to address these questions in full.”

A previous push for a statement to Parliament was rejected by the First Minister, who said: “I don’t think Parliament is the place to do a statement on the party’s finances.”

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