SNP acting chief exec cold calls auditors in bid to not lose over £1m if accounts deadline missed

The SNP's acting chief executive has sent "cold-call" emails to auditors in a bid to not lose more than £1.2m in short money.

The party stands on the brink of losing more than £1 million because of its failure to complete an audit – with the SNP legally required to submit fully audited accounts to the Electoral Commission by 7 July or face large fines.

The Times reports that acting chief executive Susan Ruddick had sent an email to a firm on Wednesday morning with the subject line "Audit enquiry" ahead of the crucial deadline.

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Ruddick, was appointed as acting chief executive following the resignation of Peter Murrell in a row over party membership numbers.

Murrell, 58, was separately arrested and then released without charge pending further inquiries as part of a police investigation into the party's finances.

The email reads: "We are urgently seeking a statutory auditor to comply with our obligations To the Electoral Commission as well as an audit of our Westminster group at the House of Commons.

"Would you have any capacity to assist in either of the above?"

Ruddick, who is acting chief executive of the SNP following the resignation of Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon's husband, in a row over party membership numbers.

The SNP's acting chief executive has sent "cold-call" emails to auditors in a bid to not lose more than £1.2m in short money.The SNP's acting chief executive has sent "cold-call" emails to auditors in a bid to not lose more than £1.2m in short money.
The SNP's acting chief executive has sent "cold-call" emails to auditors in a bid to not lose more than £1.2m in short money.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour's deputy leader, told The Times: "That the SNP has resorted to cold calling auditing companies in a pathetic attempt to put out the bin-fire that is their financial chaos is gobsmacking.

The SNP has until May 31 to submit accounts for its Westminster group or lose £1.2 million of short money.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, said yesterday that the party had asked Commons authorities for an extension. In a statement he suggested that no extension would be offered stating: “It is my understanding that May 31 is the deadline and that's what needs to be kept to.”

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Fears have been raised over whether a failure to meet that deadline would lead to staff losing their jobs when the Short money is stopped or whether the SNP has enough funding in its reserves to plug the gap.

Following reports of a row between Stephen Flynn and his predecessor Ian Blackford over the auditor, Flynn posted a photograph on the Commons terrace of the two sharing a drink together.

It is understood that the SNP's Westminster group is in separate conversations with firms about the prospect of its books being signed off separatel.

A spokesman said the group was in the process of appointing an auditor and "hope to have our accounts signed off, in the usual way, as they are every year".

An SNP spokesman said: "We take our statutory obligations seriously and until a contract is signed, we will continue our search."

Johnston Carmichael, who audited the SNP accounts for over a decade resigned in September last year, prior to the arrest of former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

In accordance with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000, the SNP is required to prepare financial statements. However, Electoral Commission rules mean any income or expenditure of more than £250,000 is required by law to also have accounts independently audited.