Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie clarifies he did know about the party's £110,000 motorhome
Asked if he knew about the campervan purchase and if he signed it off, Colin Beattie told journalists on Tuesday: “No, I didn’t know about it.”
The Niesmann + Bischoff vehicle, which can sell for as much as £110,000, was seized by police from the home of the mother of Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell at the same time he was in custody and the home he shares with the former first minister was being searched by police.
Mr Murrell, who is the SNP’s former chief executive, was released without charge later that day “pending further investigation”.
Last week, Mr Beattie was also arrested and released without charge as part of an ongoing police probe into the SNP’s funding and finances.
In a statement issued later on Tuesday, Mr Beattie said: “This afternoon I was asked if I knew about the motorhome purchase to which I answered no.
“Given some of the coverage of this answer, I believe it is important to clarify that I was unaware of the transaction at the time of purchase.
“I became aware of the transaction via the 2021 annual accounts.”
The campervan was reportedly bought by the SNP as an election “battle bus” ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election, but was never used due to Covid rules being lifted.
Mr Beattie was the SNP’s national treasurer between 2004 and 2020, losing the position to MP Douglas Chapman. However, Mr Chapman quit the post in 2021, claiming he was not being given the required information to carry out the job, and Mr Beattie took on the role again.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said earlier: "This is yet another bombshell revelation that lays bare the chaos at the heart of the SNP. That the treasurer of the party did not know that over £100,000 had been spent on a motorhome is mind-boggling. This is a party in melt-down with nothing to offer Scots.”
Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP, said before the clarification from Mr Beattie: “This causal admission from Colin Beattie beggars belief. He’s effectively saying ‘Motorhome? What motorhome?’
“He has serious questions to answer over this bombshell revelation. How on earth could someone who was treasurer, when the accounts featuring this six-figure purchase were signed off, now claim he was never aware of it? The murkiness surrounding the scandal-ridden SNP increases by the day.”
He repeated his call for the SNP to suspend Mr Murrell, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Beattie while the police investigation is ongoing.
Speaking to journalists in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Beattie also insisted the SNP’s trouble finding auditors for its accounts was partly due to a “market situation”.
The party’s auditors quit in October and have yet to be replaced, with the SNP Westminster group at risk of missing out on £1.2 million from Westminster authorities, known as Short money, if it fails to submit audited accounts by May 31.
Asked by journalists why the party was having such trouble appointing new auditors, Colin Beattie said: “Partly, that’s a market situation.”
He insisted the SNP is not in danger of going bust. “The SNP is in the black,” he said. Asked if the party was “not going bust”, he added: “We’re a going concern, definitely.”
He reportedly recently told the party’s ruling body the SNP could struggle to balance the books.
A spokesman for the SNP said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on a live police investigation but the SNP have been cooperating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so."
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