A complainer in the Operation Branchform investigation has raised concerns over whether the probe into SNP finances is being affected by "turmoil" in the top ranks of Police Scotland.

Over the weekend a whistleblower told the Herald on Sunday of “discord” among the force’s higher echelons and “profound dissatisfaction” within the ranks regarding Chief Constable Jo Farrell.

They also accused the new boss of a “diminished commitment” to “addressing institutional discrimination” within the force.

Police Scotland said they did not recognise the criticism, but Calum Steele, the General Secretary of the International Council of Police Representative Associations and the former boss of the Scottish Police Federation said it was clear the force was not a “happy ship".

READ MORE: Whistleblower claims leadership of Police Scotland in 'turmoil'

Now one of the complainers in the force's long running inquiry into SNP finances has come forward to ask whether the inquiry is progressing as it should amid the reported issues.

"The public have a right to see justice being delivered especially when those being investigated are highly paid public servants," said the complainer, whose identity is known to The Herald but does not wish to be identified.

"Operation Branchform has taken over two years so far and is based on a public fundraiser... the public have a right to expect justice to be seen to be done. Otherwise faith in the justice system could be put at risk."

READ MORE: Operation Branchform: Complainer raised concerns with SNP

READ MORE: Operation Branchform: 'We have always acted in interests of justice'

Asked if he was concerned over any negative impacts to Operation Branchform, he said: "Yes I think if Police Scotland are missing a number of key appointments then how can they carry out their duties and investigate reported crimes?

"It doesn't take over two years to read a set of accounts and question a small number of people."

Police Scotland’s investigation into the SNP's finances was launched in July 2021 after a number of complaints that £660,000 raised by the party explicitly for a second independence referendum campaign was spent on other items.

Nicola Sturgeon, her husband Peter Murrell and the SNP's former national treasurer Colin Beattie were all arrested in connection with the inquiry last year and released without charge.

Ms Sturgeon later insisted she was 'innocent of any wrongdoing'.

Her and Mr Murrell's home near Glasgow and the SNP's headquarters in Edinburgh were also searched.

The Herald: Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking to reporters following her release after her arrest last year. Photo PA.

Since the probe was launched Police Scotland has undergone major changes in its leadership.

Sir Iain Livingstone retired as chief constable of the force in August last year handing overall responsibility of Operation Branchform to deputy chief constable designate Fiona Taylor.

Ms Farrell took over as the officer ultimately in charge of the probe when she became chief constable last October.

There have been other changes among the force's top brass.

Ms Taylor and fellow deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham, who applied for the chief constable role but lost out to Ms Farrell. are both due to retire this month, while the Scottish Police Authority is already looking to recruit three new Assistant Chief Constables.

Meanwhile, deputy Chief Officer David Paige, the service’s most senior civilian staff member, has been on leave for months now after lodging a grievance against the Chief Constable.

Last month, The Herald reported David Duncan, the Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) in charge of Policing Together, Police Scotland’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, had retired after little more than a year in post.

The Herald on Sunday's whistleblower said his “abrupt exit” just weeks before the new hate crime legislation took effect, highlighted the “internal discord" in the service.

They said it also "served as a stark criticism of the leadership's failure to prioritise and address the systemic challenges facing Police Scotland".

Policing Together was created by former Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone to "drive forward cultural change within Police Scotland" and came just months before his bombshell announcement that “institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist” within the service.

The new ACC portfolio was created in February 2023 to give “sustainable and tangible effect to the commitments within the Policing Together strategy".

However, under the new Chief Constable, it has been merged with the Prevention, Partnership, and Community Wellbeing portfolio.

The whistleblower said Mr Duncan's "abrupt exit" highlighted the "internal discord" in the service and "also served as a stark criticism of the leadership's failure to prioritise and address the systemic challenges facing Police Scotland".

Chief Constable Farrell, the first woman to lead Police Scotland, joined last autumn after a four-year stint in charge of Durham Constabulary.

She previously sparked controversy after commandeering a patrol car to taxi her home to England when her train was cancelled because of Storm Babet.

The Chief later apologised for her "error of judgment" - which happened less than two weeks into her new role.

Our whistleblower said they were worried about a “diminished commitment” by CC Farrell to “addressing institutional discrimination within Police Scotland".

They added: "Such a sequence of events points to a leadership in turmoil, casting a shadow over the force’s direction and its ability to address critical internal and external challenges.

“The lack of transparency and strategic missteps has not only sown discord amongst the most senior ranks but has also raised urgent questions about the leadership’s priorities and their impact on the morale and effectiveness of Police Scotland."

Calum Steele told the Herald on Sunday that it was "really quite remarkable" that senior police officers were so willing to publicly decry the characteristics of colleagues.

He said: "The mood music that I pick up from colleagues and former colleagues is that there is a significant disharmony within the higher echelons of the Force HQ at Tulliallan and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon."

Towards the end of his tenure as Chief Constable, Sir Iain Livingtone made a number of public statements on Operation Branchform robustly defending the inquiry after it came under attack from SNP figures.

In an interview with The Herald in March the former chief, who now leads Operation Kenova into collusion between the security forces and paramilitary groups during the Troubles, said he would be happy to speak to Ms Farrell about the investigation in confidence.

He was pressed on whether his successor should provide an update on the investigation.

"That is not a matter for me to give advice to Jo Farrell," he said.

"I would always be here on a personal, confidential basis, to speak with Jo. She's got many challenges ahead and I want her to do really well, for the force to do well.

"So I wouldn't publicly give Jo Farrell any advice. I think that would be inappropriate."

On Operation Branchform, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: "As the investigation remains ongoing we are unable to comment."

It is understood the two portfolios under former ACC Duncan's responsibility merged months before his retirement and had no bearing on his decision to retire.

The force has insisted that merging the portfolios strengthened its approach to vulnerability, equality diversity and inclusion.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "We have not scrapped Policing Together and remain committed to making Police Scotland an anti-discriminatory service."