THE SNP treasurer who is facing a contest to remain in the role has revealed why he should keep the post.

Stuart McDonald, the MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, was appointed to the key position when Colin Beattie stepped down from the position in the Spring following his arrest amid the long running police probe Operation Branchform.

The SNP’s national executive committee (NEC) confirmed the appointment in April of Mr McDonald, a former lawyer who was first elected to Westminster in 2015.

But according to internal party papers, seen by The Herald, SNP member Douglas Thomson has also been nominated for the role of national treasurer which is among the senior roles to be decided upon when the SNP hold its internal elections at next month's annual conference in Aberdeen.

READ MORE: SNP treasurer Stuart McDonald faces election contest for role

Earlier this week The Herald revealed that party president Michael Russell was facing a challenge for his role from party activist and land reform campaigner Graeme McCormick.

This morning Mr McDonald told The Herald why he believed SNP members should vote for him to remain party treasurer citing his securing of new auditors.

"After securing new auditors and helping to steer the party through that audit process, I have a clear idea of how we can improve internal party processes.  Along with colleagues, I’ve started on that job – and want to see it through," he said. 

A series of major financial challenges faced the party in April when Mr McDonald became national treasurer.

New accountants to audit the party's accounts had to be found after longstanding auditors Johnstone Carmichael quit in September last year; the party at Westminster had to submit its accounts by May 31 or lose £1.2m in public money known as short money; and in addition the party had to file its accounts to the Electoral Commission by July 7 or be fined.

READ MORE: SNP president Michael Russell faces challenge from party activist

SNP bosses were initially unable to a find replacement auditors before Manchester-based firm AMS Accounting agreed to take on the job on 3 May, with both sets of accounts submitted by the deadlines.

The SNP’s audit of accounts was limited after documents relating to cash and cheques for membership payments and donations “were not kept by the party”.

However, the party's accounts to the Electoral Commission were signed off by the auditors under a "qualification" as some paperwork was missing.

The SNP insisted at the time that the qualification was down to “administrative processes” and said there was no suggestion of misappropriation of funds.

Mr Beattie, MSP for East Lothian and Musselburgh, stepped down from the role of SNP national treasurer after he was arrested and released without charge pending further investigation during the long running police investigation Operation Branchform into the party’s finances.

Former first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Mr Murrell was also arrested and questioned on separate occasions, in June and April respectively, before being released without charge. Ms Sturgeon later insisted she was innocent of any wrongdoing.
Operation Branchform centres on how more than £600,000 in donations to the party earmarked for an independence referendum was used.

Mr Beattie, who was treasurer from 2004 to 2020 and again from 2021, also quit his role on Holyrood’s public audit committee until the police conclude their investigation.

Before his election to Westminster, Mr McDonald was head of information at the Yes Scotland campaign group prior to the 2014 independence referendum and worked as a public affairs officer for the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights.

On taking up the role, he said: “While it is a difficult and challenging time, I look forward to getting on with the job of national treasurer to help take forward the important work being led by our new party leader, Humza Yousaf, to improve the SNP’s governance and transparency.

“I’ve no hesitation in stepping forward when asked to do my part in keeping our party firmly on a campaign footing as the case for Scottish independence becomes more compelling that ever.”