Police investigating SNP fraud claims are hunting phone SIM cards, the MoS can reveal.
It is the latest twist in the investigation into £600,000 in potentially ‘missing’ SNP funds. SIM cards contain a record of texts and phone calls, and police believe they could help them form a picture regarding the “missing” funds.
Agents have already raided the home of former SNP chief Peter Murrell and his wife, former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Detectives were also seen carrying boxes from the SNP offices in Edinburgh.
Last week ex-SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was arrested, and SNP sources say it is ‘only a matter of time’ before Ms Sturgeon is questioned by police.
A senior party source said last night: ‘The police are looking for SIM cards. They can contain vital evidence, especially over text messages. Partly for this reason, the police check everything with a fine comb.’ The astonishing revelation follows another tumultuous week for the Nationalists, after the party’s treasurer, Mr Beattie, 71, was also arrested and questioned during the investigation.
Last week ex-SNP treasurer Colin Beattie (pictured) was arrested, and SNP sources say it is ‘only a matter of time’ before Ms Sturgeon is questioned by police
Speculation is mounting over when Scotland police will question Nicola Sturgeon (pictured)
Prime Minister Humza Yousaf was forced to act as his party’s temporary finance boss and admitted that the SNP still lacked accountants, despite the former accountants resigning in September last year.
As rumors circulate that Scotland’s ruling party is going bankrupt – as without accountants they will lose their £1million ‘short money’ received by the opposition parties in Westminster – speculation continues to mount as to when Scotland’s police will question Ms Sturgeon.
A number of SNP sources think the former prime minister will be arrested ‘soon’.
Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly denied that the police investigation into allegations of ‘missing’ party funds contributed to her shock February dismissal.
Claims that she jumped before being pushed have been dismissed by the former SNP leader and her team, but allegations have resurfaced following the dramatic arrest of her husbands, Mr Murrell and Mr Beattie, who were both released without charge.
The police investigation focuses on the spending of the money collected in 2017 and 2019 in the context of a ‘referendum call’.
Concerns first arose when SNP accounts showed less than £100,000 in the bank at the end of 2019, despite £600,000 being raised from donations to the referendum calls, sparking at least 19 complaints.
After the police launched their investigation, Mr Murrell – who was the CEO of the SNP for 24 years – loaned the party £107,620, which he claimed was to help with ‘cash flow’.
Prime Minister Humza Yousaf (pictured) was forced to act as his party’s temporary finance boss and admitted the SNP still lacked accountants, despite the former accountants’ resignation last September
Serious questions arose about the loan after the party only made it public 14 months later. Mr Yousaf confirmed last week that the SNP had still not repaid Mr Murrell all his money, with £60,000 still outstanding.
Ms Sturgeon continued to distance herself from the police investigation, claiming that the loan belonged to Mr Murrell and that he had a right to help the party he supports. She emphatically said that her husband would do as he pleased with his own “resources.”
Although both Mr Murrell and Mr Beattie have been released without charge, the police investigation continues.
The latest revelations will increase pressure on Mr Yousaf over his handling of the SNP’s financial crisis – just as he will meet Rishi Sunak for the first time since being sworn in as prime minister late last month.
In an apparent attempt to improve relations between the British and Scottish governments, Mr Yousaf will travel to London tomorrow for informal talks with the Prime Minister. He will then meet London Mayor Sadiq Khan, as well as German and Ukrainian ambassadors, officials say.
The trip south indicates Mr Yousaf hopes to develop a more cordial working relationship with the Prime Minister, despite their opposing views on a number of issues, not least the separation of Scotland. But the prime minister is likely to receive a frosty welcome from Mr Sunak after he vowed to launch a legal challenge against the UK government within days of his appointment for blocking gender reform, while last week blaming Westminster for delaying of the deposit guarantee scheme in Scotland.
The latest SIM card development in the SNP’s police investigation will not go unnoticed by the Tory leader who last week alluded to the trouble facing the Nationalists.
Mr Sunak crossed swords with SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn during the Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday, saying: “Mr Chairman, at the moment he and his party are focused on other matters but we will continue to work as usual .’