THE SNP’s new national treasurer has told party members that more than £600,000 raised for an indyref2 campaign appeal will be spent on achieving an independent Scotland - and why the cash doesn’t appear as a dedicated fund in the SNP’s accounts.

Colin Beattie also raised the prospect of a new fund raising campaign early next year as he moved to reassure activists following a police complaint and accusations that the money raised by Yes supporters in 2017 had gone missing.

A detailed update on the funds was set out in a statement by Beattie over the weekend as the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) met to discuss the issue.

READ MORE: SNP's new national treasurer releases statement on £600,000 for indyref2

In his statement, Beattie:
- assured members a total of £666,953 raised to achieve independence would be spent on that goal

- told activists further fundraising appeals by the SNP may be needed early next year as it approaches “critical political watersheds”

- promised to improve financial transparency 

The move comes after pressure on the party leadership over transparency on financial matters and the resignation of former party treasurer Douglas Chapman, who stood down last month saying he hadn’t been given adequate information to do his job.

Two days after Chapman left his role, fellow SNP MP Joanna Cherry quit her position on the NEC also citing concerns over transparency and scrutiny.

In a lengthy statement published on the SNP website on Saturday, Beattie said: "Questions have been raised in recent months about funds raised in response to independence-related appeals since 2017 and whether all of the amounts raised will be spent directly on the campaign to win independence.

"As national treasurer, I give an assurance that this will be the case.”

He went on to give an explanation of the party’s audit and financial reporting rules and insisted “that amounts equivalent to the sums raised will be spent directly on the campaign to win independence and explain why this amount doesn’t currently show as a separate fund in the party’s accounts".

Beattie set out his explanation over ten points and underlined that the SNP’s accounts are subject to external audit and to review by the Electoral Commission. He noted that the size and purpose of each donation made was recorded by the party with a running total of “such expressions of wish” kept by the party’s headquarters.

“In due course, as money is utilised for such purpose, the balance of any such total is reduced until the obligation is expunged,” he said.

“Donations made to the independence-related fundraising appeals have been treated in this way. 

“They are recorded within HQ as being related to these appeals and amounts equivalent to the sums raised will be spent for the intended purpose. 

“Of course, the SNP is the party of independence and, as such, every penny we spend – directly or indirectly – is in support of winning independence. 

“However, through this internal process we will ensure that an amount equivalent to the sums raised from these appeals will go directly to our work to secure a referendum and win independence.”

He added: “To be clear, by the end of 2020 a total of £666,953 had been raised through the independence related appeals and coded as such through the internal process. 

“These donations are also included in – and have been reconciled with – the total amount for donations included in party accounts from 2017 to 2020. Up until 31st December 2020 a total of £51,760 of expenditure had been applied against this income. 

“The balance remains ‘earmarked’ – through the internal process explained above – for independence-related campaigning. It is worth noting that there are other items of expenditure that it would have been perfectly legitimate for us to apply against this income but we have chosen not to do so.

"In other words, we are taking a very strict approach to ensuring that this income supports expenditure directly related to the campaign for independence.”

Beattie stressed while the accounts do not present a separate fund, the money had not be spent.

“This system does not result in a separate fund being officially recorded in the annual accounts of the party. Hence a claim from some that the money does not exist,” he said.

“In fact the money is 'earmarked' through the internal process set out above and will be deployed fully through future cash flow for the purpose of promoting a referendum on independence and campaigns intended to secure independence.” 

Ahead of the possibility of indyref2 before the end of 2023, Beattie added: “We are budgeting to allocate much of the remainder for referendum/independence preparations this year. There may be a need for a further fund raising exercise early in 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds.”

He said he and CEO Peter Murrell were discussing with external auditors “how such transparency can be achieved and improved in future".

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "We continue to assess a complaint of alleged financial irregularity. During this initial work further information has been received which also requires to be assessed to determine if an investigation is required."