THE SNP treasurer is being challenged for the role as the party’s internal elections get under way, we can reveal.

A list of candidates, obtained by The National, names activist Douglas Thomson as standing against Colin Beattie.

Earlier yesterday it appeared Michael Russell was also being challenged for the role of SNP president.

However, the activist listed to contest the honorary role of SNP president Graeme McCormick, a retired solicitor, officially withdrew from the race.

He told us he may have entered the race inadvertently when putting himself forward for a number of other internal party positions.

READ MORE: Race on for key SNP role as second candidate triggers contest

Speaking to The National yesterday, Russell said he had known McCormick for a long time and understood that administrative errors “just sometimes happen”. He added: “I will be pleased to stay on as SNP president, there is lots of work to do.”

Russell, the former Scottish Brexit secretary, was elected to his post at the party’s internal elections last year.

He beat former British diplomat Craig Murray, who is currently serving an eight-month prison sentence for contempt of court.

Russell succeeded former MEP Ian Hudghton, who took over from Winnie Ewing in 2005.

He was appointed as political director at the SNP’s independence unit earlier this year with his task described by the party’s deputy leader as to “fire up” the Yes movement. 

McCormick said he was surprised when he saw his name on the list of candidates for party president as he had not intended to throw his hat into the ring.

“I don’t know how it happened,” he told The National.

“If I completed the form inaccurately, then I may well have inadvertently ticked the box [for president] and as soon as it was brought to my notice I withdrew my name from the contest.”

McCormick, who is convener of the SNP's Dumbarton constituency association and the organiser of the Helensburgh branch, is standing as a west of Scotland candidate for the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), and also for the conferences committee and the party's conduct committee.

Beattie is the MSP for Midlothian and Musselburgh and held the role of treasurer until November last year when he was defeated in the internal election by MP Douglas Chapman.

But Chapman stood down in May this year, claiming he was not given enough information to do the job, with Beattie then returning to the role.

His resignation followed his attempts as party treasurer to probe the whereabouts of £600,000 raised by SNP activists for a second independence referendum campaign.

In July, Police Scotland announced they had launched a fraud probe amid claims the donated cash had gone missing.

Asked about the matter at a National Roadshow in August, Russell said the £600,000 is “not missing” and that the money is still available for independence campaigning.

Russell said: “Colin Beattie ... has given a very comprehensive and clear statement of where that money is, that money is available for campaigning for independence, it is accounted for minutely and it will be spent on independence.

“The procedures used for it were exactly the same procedures we have used for all previous similar funds and there was nothing suspicious or devious about it whatsoever.

“One of the things we do suffer from is a malice from some people which goes on repeating things even when they are not true.”

READ MORE: Labour and Tories accused of 'undermining' Holyrood with vote against SNP motion

He added: “So as far as I am concerned there is no missing money.”

On Sunday we reported that the role of policy development convener, currently held by Chris Hanlon, is being contested by Toni Giugliano.

The ballot for party roles opens this Friday at the start of the SNP’s annual conference, being held virtually. It continues throughout the event with the winners announced on Monday.

Last year’s elections were dramatic, with a host of candidates critical of the party’s strategy on independence and on reform of gender recognition laws elected.

Some later left the party to join Alba, the pro-independence party led by former SNP leader and former first minister Alex Salmond, which launched ahead of the Holyrood elections.