SNP treasurer Colin Beattie resigns after arrest amid party finance probe

The SNP treasurer released a statement on Wednesday saying it was the right decision 'to avoid further distraction'.

SNP treasurer Colin Beattie resigns after arrest amid party finance probe Getty Images

SNP treasurer Colin Beattie has resigned following his arrest and subsequent release amid the ongoing police investigation into the party’s funding and finances.

Police Scotland confirmed on Tuesday morning that a 71-year-old man had been taken into custody as a suspect in connection with the probe.

Beattie was questioned by detectives before being released without charge pending further investigation on Tuesday evening, police confirmed.

The MSP Midlothian North and Musselburgh released a statement on Wednesday afternoon confirming he would be “stepping back” as the party’s treasurer and from his role on Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee.

The letter said he took the decision “to avoid further distraction to the important work being led by Humza Yousaf”.

Reacting to the news, the First Minister confirmed that a new Treasurer would be appointed “as soon as possible.”

Beattie’s full statement read: “This afternoon I informed the party leader that I will be stepping back from my role as SNP National Treasurer with immediate effect.

“I have also informed the SNP chief whip at Holyrood that I will be stepping back from my role on the Public Audit Committee until the Police investigation has concluded.

“On a personal level, this decision has not been easy, but it is the right decision to avoid further distraction to the important work being led by Humza Yousaf to improve the SNP’s governance and transparency.

“I will continue to cooperate fully with Police Scotland’s enquiries and it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on a live case.”

Beattie had been an MSP since 2011.

Beattie has been an MSP since 2011 having previously been an international banker for more than 20 years.

He was the SNP’s treasurer from 2004 until 2020, before being briefly replaced by Douglas Chapman.

Beattie’s arrest was the second in the police investigation launched in July 2021 into how £600,000 of funding raised by the SNP for campaigning has been spent.

Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell was arrested on April 5, as officers carried out searches at a number of properties including the couple’s home in Glasgow and the SNP Headquarters in Edinburgh.

He was subsequently released without charge in connection with an investigation into the funding and finances of the party.

On Tuesday, Humza Yousaf insisted the SNP is not operating criminally, and said he was “surprised” following the arrest of the 71-year-old.

When asked if Beattie has been suspended from the party, the First Minister said: “I’ve said already that people are innocent until proven guilty.”

Opposition parties had called for the suspension of Beattie.

Yousaf did admit he would “consider” removing the MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh from both the committee and his role as party treasurer.

The First Minister offered his thanks to Beattie following the announcement, adding the decision would “not have been an easy one”.

He said: “I want to offer my thanks to Colin. I know that his decision to step back from the role of SNP National Treasurer will not have been an easy one, but he has done so in the best interest of the Party.

“A new Treasurer will be appointed as soon as possible.”

The former treasurer’s arrest prompted Labour MSP Michael Marra to call on Yousaf to “immediately” remove Beattie from the Scottish Parliament’s public audit committee, calling his position “untenable”.

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP, said: “Colin Beattie’s resignation highlights Humza Yousaf’s total lack of leadership in tackling the ever-growing scandal engulfing the SNP.

“As soon as Colin Beattie was arrested, the First Minister should have immediately suspended him as SNP treasurer and a party member, as well asking him to stand aside from the two key Holyrood committees he sits on. Instead he has been allowed to depart on his own terms.

“Humza Yousaf is like a rabbit in the headlights. His failure to remove Colin Beattie from these roles – as well as not suspending Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon – makes a mockery of claims that he has taken decisive action.

“The SNP are in meltdown and consumed by chaos and it is the real priorities of Scotland that are being ignored as a result. Only the Scottish Conservatives are focused on those real priorities like supporting people with the cost-of-living, fixing the NHS and strengthening the economy.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code