Ian Blackford rejects Nicola Sturgeon suspension calls and says he knew auditors quit last year

Ian Blackford has rejected the suggestion Nicola Sturgeon should be suspended and admitted he knew the party auditors quit last year.
Ian Blackford revealed he knew the SNP auditors quite last yearIan Blackford revealed he knew the SNP auditors quite last year
Ian Blackford revealed he knew the SNP auditors quite last year

Calls for the former First Minister to be suspended by the SNP began after a leaked video surfaced from March 2021 where she claimed the NEC the party had “never been in a stronger financial position than it is now”.

She added: “I’m not going to get into the details … but just be very careful about suggestions that there are problems with the party’s finances because we depend on donors to donate – there are no reasons for people to be concerned about the party’s finances and all of us need to be careful about suggesting that there is.”

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After the video surfaced, the Scottish Tories led calls for the former first minister to be suspended from the party, a suggestion that has now been rejected by the SNP’s former Westminster leader Mr Blackford – a key Sturgeon ally.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “Goodness gracious, absolutely not, there’s no reason for that at all.

“I think that’s some of our opponents politicking, really, in this context.”

In the video, Mr Blackford said, there was “nothing which was in any way untoward”, adding: “What the (former) first minister was reflecting on was the ability of the SNP to conduct itself as an organisation, having the financial resources in order to fight elections and to support its members.”

The video was reportedly days before a complaint was made to police about the use of £600,000 of donations earmarked for an independence referendum campaign, which would result in a police investigation and the subsequent arrest of her husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

Mr Murrell was released without charge “pending further investigation”.

A spokeswoman for Ms Sturgeon said on Monday: “In order to ensure the focus of this week is on the new First Minister setting out his priorities for the people of Scotland, Ms Sturgeon has always intended to participate remotely and intends to return to Holyrood in the near future.”

A report in the Daily Telegraph suggesting Ms Sturgeon would step down as an MSP was dismissed by the former Westminster leader as “idle speculation”.

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The Ross, Skye and Lochaber also revealed he knew the party’s auditors had quit “towards the tail end of last year”, after it emerged the Johnston Carmichael which audited the SNP’s accounts resigned more than six months ago, but this information was not disclosed to the public or even some senior party figures.

Mr Blackford said: “What happened was that Johnston Carmichael stood down as the auditors of the SNP and, as a consequence of that, as the auditors for the Westminster group.

“I was told in a timely manner that had happened… that was towards the tail end of last year after Johnston Carmichael had submitted their resignation.”

Mr Blackford stressed that organisations regularly “review their arrangements” as it relates to auditors.

He went on to say “categorically” that the SNP’s Westminster group will submit its accounts to the Electoral Commission by the May 31 deadline.



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