SNP staff members are being investigated by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body after a whistleblower claimed they were using public money to fund the party’s general election campaign.

The complaint, made to Alison Johnstone, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer, included screenshots of a WhatsApp group, called “Office Manager Chat.”

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The conversation appears to have timer for messages to be automatically deleted.

One individual, who is named as “Paul” in the conversation, posted a message that read: “Guys, the new stamps. Can they be traced?”

A staff member who works in the office of Nicola Sturgeon asked if he was referring to “who purchased them and what they’re being used for.”

Paul responded: “Can they be traced back to who purchased them?”

A member of SNP deputy leader Keith Brown’s office said she had “asked Rab in the mailroom and he said no”.

Another staff member said they were not aware of the stamps being traceable.

Someone from the office of Shirley-Anne Somerville replied: “If they can then a few people may be up in front of corporate body…”

(Image: NQ)

MSPs are allowed to spend up to £5,500 a year on postage and stationery.

The parliament’s rules state that they “must be used only for parliamentary duties and must not be used for any other purpose, including party political purposes”.

In the email to Ms Johnstone, the individual who made the complaint said: “I am anonymously sharing a screenshot from the SNP office managers’ WhatsApp group chat due to my concerns that several MSPs are using stamps paid for by Scottish parliament expenses to pass to UK parliament election candidates for campaign activities such as sending target letters to hard-to-reach addresses.

"I’m concerned about this open discussion involving several members’ offices.”

A spokesman for the SNP Holyrood group said: “The parliamentary rules are crystal clear that materials, including stamps, can only be used for parliamentary purposes such as representing constituents and campaigning on their behalf.

"These exchanges, whilst obviously light-hearted, are being investigated as is appropriate and we would expect the offices of MSPs of all parties to cooperate with the parliamentary corporate body.”

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A Scottish parliament spokesman said: “We take the use of publicly funded resources very seriously. Officials are investigating the matter to establish whether there has been any misuse of parliamentary resources.”

The SNP has struggled for cash in recent months. That is likely, in part, down to Operation Branchform, the police investigation into the party’s finances.

Most of the income received by the party this year has come from Short Money, public cash given to all opposition parties in the Commons with two or more MPs.

Earlier this month, John Swinney said his party received donations from “lots and lots of party members” that would be under the reporting threshold.

“We have more party members than all of the other parties in Scotland combined, and people generously make contributions to the party on an ongoing basis.

"And if you have lots of people donating small sums, that adds up to quite a big amount.

“So I'm really quite happy with the way donations are coming into the party,” he told journalists.