Scottish National Party (SNP) treasurer Colin Beattie arrested

Colin Beattie
Mr Beattie was reappointed as the SNP's treasurer in 2021 after previously having held the role for 16 years

The SNP has held emergency talks today following the arrest of its treasurer Colin Beattie.

Mr Beattie, who has been the party’s treasurer for a number of years, was detained by police investigating the party’s funding and finances earlier on Tuesday.

The news came shortly before First Minister Humza Yousaf was due to make his first major statement in Holyrood, setting out his priorities in office.

Speaking in parliament, the new SNP leader said being first minister was “not without its challenges” – to laughter from fellow MSPs – but he insisted he was focused on the “genuinely difficult challenges” facing Scotland.

However, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sawar branded Mr Yousaf a “lame duck” first minister, leading a party engulfed in scandal”.

“In three short weeks, we already have a lame duck first minister and a lame duck government,” he said, adding that Scotland needed a “new energy” that Mr Yousaf could not provide.

Mr Yousaf – who attempted to offer a “fresh start” in his speech in Holyrood – admitted to Sky News that Mr Beattie’s arrest was “not helpful”.

Asked whether he was “surprised” at the news of Mr Beattie’s arrest, he said: “Of course I’m surprised when one of my colleagues is arrested,” he said.

Despite the development, Mr Beattie has not been suspended from the SNP, Mr Yousaf told reporters earlier.

“I’ve said already that people are innocent until they are proven guilty,” he added.

Explainer – Why have senior SNP executives been arrested and what are police investigating?

Police Scotland did not name the arrested man but said a 71-year-old suspect was detained on Tuesday.

“The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives,” the force said.

“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”

It added: “As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

Mr Beattie is the second arrest of a high-profile SNP figure in just a matter of weeks.

Peter Murrell, the SNP’s former chief executive and¬†Nicola Sturgeon‘s husband,¬†was detained by police earlier this month in connection with the investigation into the party’s finances.

He was later released without charge pending further investigations after an 11-hour detention.

At the same time that he was in police custody,¬†detectives seized a ¬£100,000 motorhome¬†from outside the home of one of Mr Murrell’s elderly relatives.

WHAT IS THE SNP INVESTIGATION ALL ABOUT?

Police Scotland and the Crown Office have been investigating the funding and finances of the SNP.

The long-running probe is linked to the spending of £600,000 raised by independence supporters to be used in a new campaign to leave the UK.

It is understood there have been complaints the ringfenced cash has been used improperly by being spent elsewhere.

Ms Sturgeon announced her shock resignation in February after more than eight years as first minister. Humza Yousaf was formally sworn in as Scotland’s new leader in March.

Mr Murrell, who married Ms Sturgeon in 2010, resigned as SNP chief executive last month.

He was forced to step down after shouldering the blame for the party’s misleading responses to the media over membership numbers.

Speaking to Sky News last month, Ms Sturgeon said the police probe played no part in her decision to step down.

In an interview with Beth Rigby, she was asked if she’d had any contact with officers as part of the investigation.

Ms Sturgeon responded: “No. I wouldn’t comment on any ongoing police investigation and I am not going to comment on this one.”

In another move that has hit the party, it emerged days after Mr Murrell’s arrest, its¬†long-standing auditors Johnston Carmichael quit.

There have been questions hanging over Mr Yousaf after he admitted that the party’s auditors had in¬†fact quit months before the official announcement and he had not been aware at the time.

Asked whether it was wrong of Ms Sturgeon not to reveal to SNP leadership candidates the lack of auditors, Mr Yousaf said: “Frankly it would have been helpful to know beforehand.

“I think people have a reasonable question to ask the party around transparency. I have committed to a review of governance with external input.”

HUMZA YOUSAF’S ATTEMPT AT A RESET HAS BEEN BLOWN OUT OF THE WATER

By Connor Gillies
Scotland correspondent @ConnorGillies

This is the second arrest of a senior figure in the SNP in less than two weeks. This is another significant moment in the long-running police probe examining the party’s finances.

Colin Beattie is a veteran of the nationalist movement and has held high-ranking positions for a long time. Detectives detaining him, in his role as party treasurer, is another tricky point – after a torrid time – for Scotland’s biggest political party.

The arrest, which follows Peter Murrell being detained by police, comes on the same day the new first minister was preparing to stand up in Holyrood for his first major parliamentary speech since replacing Nicola Sturgeon.

Humza Yousaf was hoping to use the moment to reset the conversation and lay out his priorities for his premiership. That has been been blown out of the water with this news from detectives.

Mr Yousaf’s statement will be undermined as the conversation focusses on the drama that continues to engulf his party.

Mr Yousaf also said he was unaware the SNP owned the motorhome until he became party leader in recent weeks.

The new SNP leader – who billed himself as the¬†“continuity candidate”¬†during the race to replace Ms Sturgeon – is under pressure to distance himself from his predecessor following the series of damaging events which have overshadowed his first few weeks in the top job.

Over the weekend, a video emerged in which Ms Sturgeon appeared to tell the party’s ruling body back in March 2021 to “be very careful” about suggesting the SNP was suffering from financial problems.

There were reports that Mr Beattie had issued a stark message about the SNP’s cash flow, warning that it was difficult to balance the books.

Mr Yousaf has faced calls to suspend Ms Sturgeon from the party if she failed to resign herself.

He will address the Scottish Parliament today for the first time since the Easter recess, in a session that reports suggest Ms Sturgeon will be absent for.

On Monday, the party’s former leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, sought to defend Ms Sturgeon and dismissed rumours that she could quit the party.

The Daily Telegraph quoted a source within the party saying she planned to step down “sooner rather than later” amid the ongoing controversies – but Mr Blackford rejected this as “idle speculation”, telling the BBC she still had “an awful lot to give”.

Source:  Sky News news.sky.com

About World Justice News 4259 Articles
Brings you breaking crime news and other interesting crime stories from around the world.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply