HUMZA Yousaf has said it will be “challenging" to arrange an auditor to process the SNP’s accounts in time to meet the May 31 deadline. 

Speaking to the BBC, the First Minister said he is “going to work towards meeting the deadline” but stressed: “It’ll be challenging. I won’t pretend otherwise.

“There is the ability to ask for an extension if required. We’re not in that space yet.”

He added that finding auditors was one of his “major priorities”. 

His comments come after the party’s leader in Westminster, Stephen Flynn, warned it could miss out on more than £1 million.

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On Monday, also speaking to the BBC, Flynn said the party is doing “everything possible” to meet the deadline, but finding auditors is proving difficult. 

He revealed he only became aware of the lack of auditors on February 10, despite becoming the group’s leader in December.

Separate accounts need to be submitted for the Westminster group by May 31 in order to receive “Short money” – public funding for opposition parties to carry out their parliamentary work.

The SNP as a whole is also lacking auditors, meaning the Electoral Commission could take action if accounts are not submitted on time.

It comes amid an ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances, which saw former chief executive Peter Murrell and treasurer Colin Beattie arrested earlier this month.

Both men were released without charge pending further inquiry.

Flynn was asked about the Westminster group’s difficulty in finding auditors as he appeared on the Good Morning Scotland radio programme.

He said: “I thought it would be a relatively straightforward process to go and secure new auditors. That’s obviously proven not to be the case.”

This is partly due to the fact that the financial year is nearing its end, as well as the overall challenges in the party’s finances, he said.

He continued: “We need to have our accounts for Short money in place by May 31, I believe.

The National:

“So every effort that can be made to ensure that happens is being made and, of course, we’re in contact with the House of Commons authorities meantime in relation to it.”

He said he understands the SNP will miss out on around £1.2 million in Short money if accounts are not submitted by the deadline, describing it as a “situation which is in a state of flux”.

Flynn continued: “I wouldn’t want to incur any concern amongst staff that we aren’t going to be able to meet our deadlines.

“We’re doing everything possible to ensure that that is the case.”