THE SNP has refused to formally identify more than £660,000 raised specifically for independence campaigning in its annual accounts after admitting some of it was spent on other things.

Treasurer Colin Beattie said “amounts equivalent to the sums raised” would be spent directly on campaigning after an outcry from some members worried about missing funds.

However Mr Beattie, whose predecessor quit in protest over a lack of financial transparency, said the cash would not be separated out in the forthcoming SNP accounts for 2020.

He said the SNP was under “no obligation to do so”, although it could if it wanted to do it.

In a bid to reassure members after a wave of resignations, he said that although the money was not separated out, the “commitment” to spend it on Indyref2 was “tangible”.

He also argued that “every penny” the SNP spent was in support of winning independence.

Nicola Sturgeon, whose husband is SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, has said she wants to hold a second independence referendum by 2024, despite Boris Johnson refusing to grant Holyrood the requisite powers.

Alba leader Alex Salmond last week claimed the SNP Government had let the issue "go cold".

Until 2012, when Mr Beattie was previously treasurer, the SNP identified multiple funds “restricted” for specific aims, including one for fighting an independence referendum.

The Herald:

However the party has since stopped the practice, and some members fear money raised since 2017 for an Indyref2 campaign has been absorbed into SNP general spending. 

Police Scotland have been assessing an allegation that this amounts to fraud for more than two months to see if there are grounds to mount a formal investigation.

In a message to party members this week, Mr Beattie, an MSP for Midlothian, assured the party faithful all the “amounts” raised since 2017 would be used for Indyref2 campaigning.

READ MORE: Tom Gordon - SNP’s lack of transparency is an insult to its members 

However, while all the donations had been recorded as being given for this purpose, he conceded the money had not been ringfenced in an isolated account.

Rather, the SNP had recorded how much was given, and through its internal accounting processes “will ensure that an amount equivalent to the sums raised from these apperals will go directly to our work to secure a referendum and win independence”.

He said: “To be clear, by the end of 2020 a total of £666,953 had been raised through the independence related appeals and coded as such through the internal process.

“These donations are also included in - and have been reconciled with - the total amount for donations included in Party accounts from 2017 to 2020.

“Up until 31st December a total of £51,760 of expenditure has been applied against this income. The balance remains earmarked… for independence related campaigning.

“It is worth nothing that there are other items of expenditure that it would have been perfectly legitimate for us to apply against this income, but we have chosen not to do so.

“In other words, we are taking a very strict approach to ensuring that this income supports expenditure directly related to the campaign for independence.

“The SNP is not a registered charity and does not disclose ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’ funds in our annual accounts. While the Electoral Commission accounts preparation guidance states a party ‘may’ identify such reserves in its annual accounts, there is no obligation to do so.”

Mr Beattie last year wrongly told SNP members no other party identified ‘restricted’ funds meant for a dedicated purpose in its accounts.

In fact, both the Scottish Greens and Scottish Liberal Democrats do so at Holyrood.

Mr Beattie said this week there had been “concern expressed in some quarters” that not recording the money separately in the accounts meant it “does not exists”.

He said that in fact the money had been ‘earmarked’ for independence campaigning and would be “deployed fully through future cash flow” for thar purpose.

He said: “While these monies are not separated out, their existence is terms of the commitment as to what they will be spent on is tangible.”

Mr Beattie also warned SNP members there “may be a need for a further fund raising exercise early in 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds”.

In March, three members of the SNP’s finance and audit committee quit amid complaints about being denied access to the party’s accounts.

Since then, SNP treasurer Douglas Chapman MP has also quit, complaining about a lack of transparency stopped him carrying out his “fiduciary duties”.

While SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC quit the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, this month, again citing issues with transparency and scrutiny.