SNP’s John Swinney grilled on party’s finances
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A party internal governance report has recommended the party improve its financial transparency. Party chiefs are currently embroiled in a row regarding £600,000 in donations to pay for another referendum campaign.
Party insiders suggest the cash has been spent on legal fees and refurbishing the Edinburgh headquarters.
The SNP denies the claims but Police Scotland is investigating multiple allegations of fraud.
Five members of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) – including MPs Joanna Cherry and Douglas Chapman – have quit this year, with Ms Cherry claiming she had been prevented from carrying out her duties.
The report, written by a committee led by SNP depute leader Keith Brown said recent controversies concerning the party’s finances and the resignation of former Treasurer Mr Chapman “inevitably raise questions about the SNP’s financial governance.”
Mr Brown said in the report that it “highlights the need to restore confidence in our procedures.”
Scotland’s Justice Secretary has now recommended the creation of a new subcommittee on the party’s ruling NEC.
The new finance, audit and risk sub-committee would work alongside the treasurer, in a bid to improve financial scrutiny.
Mr Brown said it would be “entirely appropriate” for the new committee to “provide constructive scrutiny of the SNP’s finances”.
This would encourage “good financial practices” across the party and would allow any irregularities to be picked up, he stressed.
Mr Brown also goes on to say the party should be more transparent when it conducts fundraising drives after new treasurer Colin Beattie said another campaign would be needed ahead of “critical political watersheds”.
The report recommends the party “takes an approach similar to that of charities in terms of financial appeals, and set out what the funds will be allocated to and then update on how those funds were then spent”.
Citing an example, it adds: “For example, for every £1 donated x pence will be spent on campaigns, x pence on staff and running costs, x pence on policy development, etc.”
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The report also admitted the party’s ability to handle complaints was not fit for purpose, with the party being “overwhelmed” by complaints from within its ranks.
It stresses the party’s failure to handle them has caused harm and suffering to members.
It comes after an SNP Westminster staffer made a complaint of sexual harassment against SNP MP and former chief whip Patrick Grady with other claims he harassed party staffers at a Christmas party.
One of these complaints is currently being examined by SNP chiefs.
Scottish Conservative chief whip, Stephen Kerr MSP, said: “It looks like the SNP will finally be forced to reveal what happened to the missing £600,000 of funds.
“The party has left their own supporters furious about donations that seem to have vanished into thin air.
“This leaked report also shows senior SNP figures know their complaints process, which has already failed so many people, is not fit for purpose.
“The SNP should bring this murky saga to a close and finally come clean to their own supporters about where this cash went.”
The Committee which created the report included members Doug Daniel, Julie Hepburn and Jamie Szymkowiak, former MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, Kaukab Stewart MSP and Moray councillor, Shona Morrison.
An SNP party spokesperson said: “The group’s report has been received, and the NEC agreed to consider implementation issues at its October meeting with any proposed concomitant constitutional changes taken to conference thereafter.
“A number of the group’s recommendations have, however, been overtaken by events.”
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