THE Scottish Tories have demanded that a parliamentary inquiry is launched into the SNP’s finances probe. 

Chief whip Alexander Burnett wrote to Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone calling for a new committee to be set up in relation to Operation Branchform.

If the bid is successful, it would follow a similar process to the inquiry into how harassment complaints against Alex Salmond were handled, the Tories said. 

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However, it must be agreed by the parliament’s Business Bureau, which includes representatives from each of the five Holyrood parties, including the SNP.

Burnett said an inquiry is needed to “get to the bottom of” why the process is taking so long, as it was first opened by Police Scotland nearly two years ago in July 2021.

The Aberdeenshire West MSP has also submitted an urgent question on the issue, but at time of publication it is not currently scheduled on Holyrood’s business paper.

The National: The former FM's house was searched amid the finance probeThe former FM's house was searched amid the finance probe

It comes after reports emerged suggesting there had been a two-week delay in executing a search warrant of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s home, which she shares with husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

However, we told how the Crown Office insisted there was no delay and that the time taken was “not unusual”.

Earlier, First Minister Humza Yousaf told Radio 4’s Today programme that he did not believe there would be “any particular reason out of the ordinary” that the approval would have taken two weeks.

“Given that we are now almost two years on from the police investigation into the SNP’s murky financial situation being opened, the time is right for a robust parliamentary inquiry to be set up,” Burnett said.

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“Progress on the investigation has moved at a very slow pace and the public deserve answers on this and other recent revelations relating to this case.

“There is a clear parliamentary precedent for such an inquiry to be set up while a criminal investigation is continuing. MSPs rightly decided that a parliamentary inquiry was needed into how harassment complaints against Alex Salmond had been handled, while police continued their own inquiries.”

Burnett said the “revelation” of the two-week delay on the search warrant showed there are “a lot of serious questions” which need to be answered.

“The Lord Advocate is hamstrung by her conflict of interest on this matter due to her dual role. She is in an impossible position as both the head of the Crown Office and chief legal adviser to the SNP-Green government,” he added.

“That only reaffirms the need for an inquiry into these delays when answers are simply not going to be forthcoming from senior Scottish government figures.

“I urge fellow MSPs alongside me on the Parliament’s business bureau to back my calls for this new committee to give the public confidence that the whole truth around this increasingly murky affair involving Scotland’s ruling party will be laid bare once and for all.”

The SNP has been contacted for comment.