SNP’s John Swinney grilled on party’s finances
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Following news that police in Scotland have launched a formal investigation into possible criminal activity involving SNP fundraising after an estimated £660,000 has gone missing without a trace, deputy leader of the SNP John Swinney faced a barrage of questioning from Today programme host Nick Robinson. He repeatedly insisted he could not comment on the investigation and said the SNP has always been “transparent” about its finances, despite a multitude of resignations by treasurers and auditors in the SNP over the parties reluctance to be transparent about funding.
Mr Robinson slammed: “It was front-page news in Scotland that there is a formal police investigation in your parties finances.
“More than £660,000 was given to the party in order to fight another independence referendum
“And it appears to have gone missing, it is not in your accounts! Where has it gone?!”
Mr Swinney went immediately on the defensive: “Well the first thing I will say here is that this is a live police investigation so you will understand there is very little I can say.
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“It will be very inappropriate for me to comment on it.”
He insisted: “The SNP has made clear that it will cooperate fully with a police investigation.
“And that all monies that are raised to be spent on an independence referendum campaign will be spent on such a campaign.”
But Robinson did not let him off the hook and went on to fire both barrels at Mr Swinney and then took aim at the SNP’s leadership.
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Mr Robinson said: “You have had a treasurer quit, you have a sex abuse row going on for months… is your party badly run?
“Doesn’t help that the chief executive is married to the party leader!”
The SNP deputy leader quickly denied the line of questioning, saying: “I think that the SNP is a well-run organisation! We have transparency around our finances, our accounts are independently audited.
“They are submitted to the electoral commission and all of these functions of good governance and statute are followed entirely.”
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The investigation comes as a member of the public is reported to have tipped Scottish police off about alleged fraud within the funding of the SNP back in March.
The move follows the SNP raising more than £660,000 since 2017 specifically to fight a second Scottish independence referendum campaign but spending some of the money in other areas in the absence of another independence vote.
In March, three members of the SNP’s finance and audit committee quit amid complaints about being denied access to the accounts.
Then in May, new SNP treasurer Douglas Chapman MP also made a shock resignation complaining how a lack of transparency within party funding had stopped him from carrying out his “fiduciary duties”.
Police Scotland said: “Anyone who has any information which may assist with this investigation should get in touch.”
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