AN MP at the centre of an internal SNP war will be investigated over claims he used Westminster expenses in a bid to oust a party rival from Holyrood.

It is understood new allegations against Phil Boswell relate to two YouTube videos, part of a series for which he claimed £450 office costs to produce, which exclusively feature his parliamentary assistant and North Lanarkshire councillor Julie McAnulty.

It is claimed that the Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill MP used the videos to promote his interests within the SNP by adding weight to the potential Holyrood candidacy of Ms McAnulty, who is herself at the centre of an SNP dispute in Lanarkshire after she was suspended over racism allegations.

HeraldScotland: Westminster's standards commissioner launches full inquiry into SNP MP Phil Boswell's financial interests

It is also alleged that Ms McAnulty made overtly party political claims in the videos, in breach of strict expenses rules, leading to The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) launching a probe.

During the time the videos were produced last summer, Ms McAnulty was standing for the constituency nomination in Uddingston and Bellshill against MSP Richard Lyle, a key player in a rival party faction in the region.

Mr Boswell publicly backed Ms McAnulty, his former election agent, over Mr Lyle, claiming that she would be "phenomenal" at Holyrood and had played a crucial role in saving Monklands Hospital which she spoke about in one of the videos.

The party in the area is at loggerheads over claims made by party activist Sheena McCulloch, who works for Mr Lyle, that Ms McAnulty told her she wanted to "get the Pakis out of the party" during a car journey last year.

The claim is strongly disputed by allies of Ms McAnulty who claim she is the victim of a smear campaign, pointing out that the accusation was made months after the alleged incident and quickly leaked to the press.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Between investigations over tax avoidance, a local party at each other’s throats with allegations of racist and misogynistic abuse and now an investigation into a misuse of expenses, Phil Boswell and the Coatbridge SNP are fast becoming a headache that won’t go away for Nicola Sturgeon."

The SNP has suspended branch operations in the Coatbridge and Chryston area while the party in neighbouring Uddingston and Bellshill, where Mr Lyle eventually defeated Ms McAnulty to become the SNP candidate in May, is also in crisis.

It is alleged that the videos paid for with Westminster expenses contain a series of overtly political messages, with Ms McAnulty describing the SNP as "the people's voice" as she criticises a stealth bombing campaign in Syria. In another, she wrongly claimed Labour had wanted to close Monklands Hospital before the SNP saved it showing it "truly is the party of the NHS".

The original videos have since been made private meaning they are impossible to view without Mr Boswell's permission and were replaced with new versions, uploaded one month ago, that no longer include the claims.


It is understood that the enquiry was launched by Ipsa, which was set up in the wake of the 2009 MPs expenses scandal, following a complaint made by one of Mr Boswell's constituents.

Ipsa guidelines state that expenses should only be claimed for "unavoidable" costs related to MPs' parliamentary functions, adding office costs "may not be used for party political activities."

The MP, who activists opposed to an "old guard" in the Lanarkshire area have grouped around, is also subject to another probe from the parliamentary commissioner for standards over claims that he breached rules over the registration of financial interests.

It followed revelations that Mr Boswell had benefitted from a tax avoidance loophole in a previous job, despite publicly criticising similar schemes, by receiving an £18,000 interest-free loan while working as a contracts manager.

He has previously argued his expense claim for the YouTube videos was justified, saying he was attempting to engage with constituents.

A spokeswoman for the SNP said: "Phil Boswell will comply fully with the investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment further while the investigation is ongoing."