Nicola Sturgeon’s sudden resignation forced the SNP to spend £160,000 finding a new leader, adding to the financial problems that had built up on her watch, it has emerged.

In a report to SNP members, treasurer Stuart McDonald admitted none of the cost of the divisive month-long leadership election had been budgeted for.

He also revealed that after a series of financial crises, the party intended to recruit a “part time qualified accountant” to keep an eye on its books.

He admitted there was a need to “rebuild trust” in the party’s financial management in light of the long-running police investigation into its fundraising.

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Police Scotland launched OPeration Branchform two years ago to examine whether £660,000 raised for fighting Indyref2 had been spent on other things.

Ms Sturgeon, her husband former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and former treasurer Colin Beattie have all been arrested, questioned and released without charge since April.

Officers also seized a luxury motorhome from outside the home of Mr Murrell’s mother.

The SNP’s accounts for 2022, released last week, failed to mention the police probe or what became of £500,000 still earmarked for Indyref2 in the previous year’s accounts.

The SNP ended 2022 with a deficit of £804,278, liabilities exceeding assets by £219,629, and only £46,039 cash at the bank and in hand.

Many of the SNP’s financial woes only came to light after Ms Sturgeon quit in February, including the loss of a third of the party’s members and the resignation of its auditors. 

The Herald:

In a report to the SNP's National Council in Perth last Sunday, Mr McDonald, the MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch, said: “While I cannot comment on the ongoing police investigation, one consequence is that there is work to do to rebuild trust in the processes and procedures that are in place to ensure proper financial management of our party.

“Steps have been taken and work is ongoing to refresh existing policies and introduce new policies which will improve accountability and transparency in financial decision making.

“Significantly… the National Executive Committee recently signed off on proposals to recruit a part time qualified accountant; and while that recruitment process is ongoing, to engage an outside firm to undertake such work.”

He went on: “The first half of 2023 was not without challenges. The overall cost of the leadership election was around £160k, none of which was budgeted for.

“Membership income has been hit by the overall fall in membership numbers (73,936 as at 29 June), while the cost of living crisis has also impacted on the level of membership payments. However, looking ahead, the position is significantly more positive.

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“While making predictions is not always wise, I remain confident our 2023 accounts will show a surplus as we build towards what will be a crucial general election year.

"We still have much work to do to ensure we put the party on the soundest financial footing possible.”

Humza Yousaf narrowly won the SNP leadership 52-48 against Kate Forbes after Ash Regan was eliminated in third place.