THE SNP's treasurer emailed donors yesterday in a bid to “quash rumours” that money supposedly ringfenced for indyref2 has already been spent.

But one of the party’s own MPs told The National there was still “huge questions to answer”.

It came after the Electoral Commission published the financial accounts for the UK’s larger political parties – those with an income or expenditure of more than £250,000.

The SNP’s paperwork reveals that they took in £5,290,815 and spent £5,609,024 in 2019, leaving them with just under £96,854 in the bank.

That’s despite two major fundraising drives for an indyref2 fighting fund in recent years.

A 2017 push saw the party take in £482,000 on their website.

Indy supporters also put their hands in their pockets more recently after a call for donations on the SNP-owned page.

Yesterday morning, after speculation on the Wings Over Scotland blog, the SNP’s treasurer Colin Beattie wrote to party donors to say that money raised for indyref2 was being held in a “Referendum Appeal Fund”.

He said there was £593,501 ready to be deployed “instantaneously”.

Beattie said: “I felt it was important for me to get in touch today to quash rumours spreading on social media about one of our fundraising appeals.”

Beattie insisted the funds “remain earmarked for the referendum and are ready to be fully deployed at a moment’s notice”.

He added: “Like all other political parties, the SNP does not separate out restricted funds in annual accounts. Any such donations are woven through the overall income figures each year.

“The Referendum Appeal Fund has a current balance of £593,501 and we can fully deploy those funds instantaneously – guaranteeing maximum impact when vital funds are needed most.

“I’ll leave our opponents to the social media conspiracies, but I wanted you to get the facts direct from me.”

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill wasn’t convinced. He also questioned why, according to the accounts, the party had spent £156,483 on legal fees last year, up from £38,676 in 2018. “There’s still huge questions to answer,” he said.

“Why is it the accounts are only coming out now, and only coming through the Electoral Commission?

“They’re not particularly good and they do leave many questions to answer.”

The East Lothian MP added: “Trust has been lost at HQ. And this is not helping to clarify it.

“This is creating more questions than it’s answering. The accounts should be clear.

“People shouldn’t be having to ask. The treasurer shouldn’t be having to put out an explanatory note.”

Stuart Campbell from Wings Over Scotland said the response was “deeply unconvincing”.

“All the supposedly ring-fenced donations came from two appeal websites, so why would the money be scattered randomly through the accounts? If the SNP claims to know to the last pound how much this ‘Referendum Appeal Fund’ is, why not simply identify it as such in the accounts?”

He added: “And if there’s nearly £600,000 available to be spent ‘at a moment’s notice’, why are the SNP’s total net current assets less than half that?”