Michael Russell is currently facing a challenge to his role as SNP president from a party activist, The Herald can reveal.

The former Scottish Government cabinet secretary was first elected to the position three years ago and earlier this year also held the post of party chief executive on an interim basis after Peter Murrell stood down.

But according to internal party papers, SNP member Graeme McCormick has also been nominated for the role when the SNP hold its internal elections during next month's annual conference.

Mr McCormick is not a well known figure outside the party, but is familiar to many inside the organisation where he is known to campaign on land reform issues.

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The role of SNP president is traditionally an honorary one, with the party’s constitution stating that it is a position elected for distinguished service to the party and not an executive post.

Mr Russell became president of the SNP in 2020, beating rival bids from former ambassador Craig Murray and ex-MP Corri Wilson, both now supporters of Alex Salmond's Alba party.

The former Scottish Brexit secretary continued uncontested in the position in 2021 and is now jointly heading the party's governance review set up in the wake of Nicola Sturgeon's resignation.

Mr McCormick had initially suggested he was going to stand for the role but pulled out of the contest, saying he had entered it inadvertently.

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At the time, Mr McCormick, a retired solicitor, said he was surprised when he saw his name on the list of candidates for party president as he had not intended to throw his hat into the ring.

“I don’t know how it happened,” McCormick said.

“If I completed the form inaccurately, then I may well have inadvertently ticked the box [for President] and as soon as it was brought to my notice I withdrew my name from the contest.”

Mr Russell told The Herald this evening that it was up to any member if they wanted to stand.
"I think Graeme McCormick stood [in 2021] and then withdrew his nomination. It is entirely up to him and I look forward to the challenge. I will be happy for members to choose who they wish to carry on the work which I've been doing."

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He added: "I've been busy over the last year. I had to take on the role of acting chief executive and I am co-chairing the constitution and governance review."

The SNP's ruling body ordered a review of transparency and the way the party is managed after controversy over its finances.

A full report is due to the presented to the SNP's conference next month in Aberdeen.

Asked if the review would go far enough, Mr Yousaf told BBC Scotland: "It is important that the financial oversight that we are committed to improving comes from the external input as opposed to within the party."

Mr McCormick told The Herald he would make a statement after the final agenda for the party's conference was published.