POLICE have reported the chair of the Scottish Liberal Democrats' general election campaign to the Crown Office over alleged criminality relating to the 2016 Holyrood election.

MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, 39, is the subject of a formal report to the procurator fiscal in relation to his campaign spending last year, when he took the Edinburgh Western seat from the SNP.

The SNP demanded the LibDems remove him as campaign director and suspend him from the party.

Officers have spent months investigating alleged “financial irregularities” in the former charity worker’s campaign, after a complaint that he may have breached the legal spending cap and filed an inaccurate, and therefore illegal, election return last June.

The Herald revealed last week that the police had sent a memo to the Crown updating prosecutors on the case.

It has now emerged that officers sent a standard prosecution report to the fiscal on Monday, something which only occurs when police consider there is evidence of wrongdoing.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Procurator Fiscal has received a report concerning a 39-year-old male in connection with an alleged incident on 7 June 2016.

“The report is currently under consideration."

Mr Cole-Hamilton won Edinburgh Western by 2960 votes after spending £32,549 on his campaign, just below the legal limit, compared to £18,593 by his SNP rival Toni Giugliano.

In Edinburgh’s five other seats, the average spend by LibDem candidates was £924.

Mr Cole-Hamilton was a “dual candidate”, standing both in a seat and on the regional list.

Electoral Commission guidance says dual candidates must make an “an honest assessment” of whether their spending promotes their constituency or regional campaign and parties “should not split costs if an item is produced mainly to promote a candidate”.

He stayed under the constituency spending cap by attributing thousands of pounds of leaflet and office costs to the regional fight rather than the constituency one.

However many leaflets claimed by the LibDems as regional spending for the Lothians were heavily skewed towards specific neighbourhoods in Edinburgh Western.

Thousands of pounds of office costs were divided 60:30:10 between the seat, region and local party, while leaflets, deliveries and stationery were split in a bewildering variety of ratios between the constituency and regional fights, including 50:50, 75:25, 80:20 and 88:12.

On his official return, Mr Cole-Hamilton also claimed he spent more on tea and biscuits than renting a shared office, spending £180 on the former and £83.45, or 68p a day, on the latter.

The SNP, which rented a campaign office next door to Mr Cole-Hamilton on a shopping arcade in Corstorphine, spent £760 on its leasing costs.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie last week said he had "absolute confidence" in Mr Cole-Hamilton, despite the investigation.

He said: “It [the police probe] is not going to go to anything. We followed the guidance. It’s going to be fine.

“Alex is a first class campaigner, so absolute confidence in him.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton is also a key player in the LibDem fight to regain Edinburgh West on Thursday, a seat it lost to the SNP in 2015.

An SNP spokesperson said: "These are extremely serious allegations. Willie Rennie must immediately remove Alex Cole-Hamilton as the party's general election director.

"Considering the seriousness of this issue, the public would fully expect Mr Cole-Hamilton to be suspended from the LibDems until the end of the investigation."

A Scottish LibDem spokesman said: "We have full confidence that there is nothing in this complaint. It's now nine months since the complaint was first made and the police have yet to interview any one associated with the campaign.

"We are fully satisfied that all election arrangements and spending was done in accordance to the law. Everything was done by the book and any proceedings will show this.”