IAN Blackford has claimed that SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn called him on April 7 to say an auditor was in place, which Flynn denied on Tuesday.

A senior SNP source also contested that account and said nothing firm was promised, clarifying that it was just an intent rather than a promise.

Accountants Johnston Carmichael resigned in October last year after a "review of its client portfolio". The firm had worked with the party for more than a decade.

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SNP Westminster leader Flynn told an Institute for Government event that he was working to secure an audit firm and was "hopeful" one would soon be in place.

Challenged on whether he had given his predecessor any assurances, the Aberdeen South MP said he didn’t want to “speculate”.

He added: “I think it’s important to reflect when talking about this there’s a lot of staff involved and I don’t want to speculate in too much detail in relation to that until I have certainty.

“Is it the case we’ve been working to secure an audit firm, absolutely. Am I hopeful we’ll be able to do that? Absolutely.

"Does that equate to having an audit firm in place? Does that equate to having certainty that I will be able to meet deadlines placed on us by the House of Commons? No.

“I’m not going to provide a categorical assurance and relation to that and those that have provided categorical answers in relation to that would probably have been wise not to do so.”

Flynn avoided saying whether he believed Blackford was lying, saying it was the difference between securing an auditor and seeking one.

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He said: “There’s a big difference between stating that we are likely to secure an audit firm and having an audit firm. There’s also a big difference between seeking to secure an audit firm and being able to provide certainty that we would definitely meet any of our deadlines.

“I have not sought to, in any way, suggest we would definitely meet any of our deadlines or obligations because I don't think that was the right tack to take, and indeed the process to secure an auditor is still very much underway, as it was when Ian and I spoke on April 7.”

The SNP group at Westminster could miss out on £1.2 million in public funds if it can’t provide audited accounts by the 31 May deadline.

On Monday, First Minister Humza Yousaf admitted it would be "challenging".