01 July 2023

SNP changes records keeping after auditors raise ‘issue’, Humza Yousaf reveals

01 July 2023

Changes have been made to the way the SNP records donations after auditors raised an “issue”, Humza Yousaf said.

The party leader and Scottish First Minister spoke about the changes after it emerged it would be submitting “qualified” accounts to the Electoral Commission.

With the SNP required to submit accounts to the watchdog by July 7, the SNP confirmed on Friday it was on track to meet this – but there would be a “qualification relating to  one stream of income due to administrative processes”.

It added that this had resulted in a “limitation in scope of the audit”.

When I first came into this role as leader there was a significant amount of doubt as to whether we would get those accounts submitted on time

Speaking about the situation, Mr Yousaf told PA Media: “The qualification the auditors refer to is really in relation to ensuring that donations that are under £250, that we keep hard copy documentation of those donations.

“We do keep an online record of them but the auditors say there should be a hard copy of those donations kept as well.”

He added: “As soon as the auditors raised that issue with us the treasurer Stuart McDonald made sure the party immediately took steps to keep hard copy records.”

Mr Yousaf confirmed: “As soon as it was flagged to the treasurer that particular issue, the treasurer ensured there was steps taken that any donation that comes in below £250 that a hard copy record is kept.

“It’s important to say an online record was kept, but the auditors have flagged that a hard copy should also be kept.”

When Mr Yousaf succeeded Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scottish First Minister in March he was informed the party’s auditors had quit several months prior to that.

AMS Accountants Group was later appointed to take on the job, with Mr Yousaf saying at the time there had been a “significant amount of doubt as to whether we would get those accounts submitted on time”.

He said he was “very pleased we have been able to meet the various deadlines we have had to, both in terms of the Westminster accounts and the party’s accounts”.

As well as issues with the party’s accounts, Mr Yousaf’s early days as SNP leader saw the arrest and questioning of former chief executive Peter Murrell and the then treasurer Colin Beattie by police probing SNP finances.

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is married to Mr Murrell, was later arrested, with all three being released without charge pending further investigation.

Mr Yousaf, who succeeded Ms Sturgeon in March,  insisted he would “absolutely” still have put himself forward for the role, even if he had known about these events at the time.

Speaking ahead of marking 100 days in the job next week, the SNP leader said: “There can be no greater honour than being the leader of your country, being able to serve your country as First Minister of Scotland, I wouldn’t change that for the world.

“There’s no getting away again from how challenging the last few months have been, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

“But equally I get up out of bed in the morning knowing I am able to make a difference to people’s lives every single day.

“So I wouldn’t change it for a minute, for a second.”

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