SNP internal report calls for reform following £600k 'missing funds' furore

The SNP needs to improve its financial transparency and appoint a new scrutiny committee to “restore confidence” in its financial procedures after a police probe into donated funds, an internal report has revealed.

According to reports in The Herald, the document says the party has to make public plans to spend fundraised cash, after it emerged earlier this year that money donated by independence supporters to the SNP claimed to have been ‘ringfenced’ by the party was spent on other things.

The report, compiled by SNP deputy Keith Brown, comes after Police Scotland received seven complaints about fraud earlier this year.

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The report admits the party has not always handled complaints well and that its process has not always been fit for purpose.

Supporters of Scottish independence. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty ImagesSupporters of Scottish independence. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images
Supporters of Scottish independence. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

In June, following a meeting of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), newly-appointed and returning treasurer Colin Beattie admitted the more than £600,000 raised as part of a drive to pay for a second independence referendum campaign had been spent by the party.

However, he claimed the money had been “earmarked” by the party, meaning the SNP would spent an equivalent sum on an independence campaign in the future.

The report by Mr Brown advises “some processes that have developed in an ad hoc way within the party be set on a more formal footing” and recommends the treasurer receive “a monthly written summary of income and expenditure, confirmed via the bank account”.

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SNP admit spending 'ringfenced' £600k funds elsewhere

It also recommends strengthening financial scrutiny, and says that it would be “entirely appropriate” for the new committee to “provide constructive scrutiny of the SNP’s finances”, arguing this “encourages good financial practices, has the potential to pick up any irregularities, enables constructive challenge, and can help to instil confidence”.

His report recommends “that the party takes an approach similar to that of charities in terms of financial appeals, and set out what the funds will be allocated to and then update on how those funds were then spent”.

The document also points out the party had struggled with an explosion in membership around the time of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

A section of the report explains: “The SNP membership has grown extensively whilst internal policies and procedures have largely remained the same. Before the explosion of membership, so much of the party’s governance functioned well because we were a much smaller organisation … to a large extent, the party operated on good will, strong networks, peer support, shared knowledge and self-discipline.

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“Immediately after the independence referendum, pre-2014 members with that experience were suddenly in the minority, and many of the old ways of doing things became obsolete in a mass membership organisation.”

The party last month appointed a complaints handler, as part of a move to create a centralised complaints-handling unit.

An SNP spokesman said: “The group's report has been received, and the NEC agreed to consider implementation issues at its October meeting with any proposed concomitant constitutional changes taken to conference thereafter.

"A number of the group’s recommendations have, however, been overtaken by events.”

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