THE SNP has come under fire for again refusing to say whether it has spent £600,000 earmarked for an independence referendum.

The party has also confirmed it is not planning any more fundraising drives for another poll in the next four months.

The Herald: Colin Beattie, SNP National TreasurerColin Beattie, SNP National Treasurer

In June 2021, the party’s treasurer Colin Beattie claimed that £666,953, raised through public appeal in 2017and 2019, was mainly unspent but said the party was “budgeting to allocate much of the remainder for referendum/independence preparations this year.”

However the party has refused to confirm what it has done with the cash, or what is plans to do, when asked by the Herald on Sunday.

READ MORE: SNP deputy says party must publish spending plans after £600k fraud probe

Mr Beattie also indicated earlier that there may need to be a “further fund raising exercise early in 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds.”

Despite this, the SNP has said the next fundraising effort they conduct will be to put towards the local elections in May, and not another referendum.

The donations for another referendum have come under scrutiny after the police received complaints that the funds had disappeared from the company accounts.

This has been denied by Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP members, which prompted Mr Beattie to make a statement about the funds in June last year.

As revealed by the Herald on Sunday, SNP deputy leader Keith Brown recommended the party was more transparent about its finances in an internal report.

He recommended “that the party takes an approach similar to that of charities in terms of financial appeals, and set out what the funds will be allocated to and then update on how those funds were then spent.”

READ MORE: SNP sets aside £600,000 for 'referendum preparations' in 2021

Asked about the £600,000 and future fundraising for a referendum, an SNP spokesman said: “The Electoral Commission will publish our accounts in due course, which as usual will be the most detailed and transparent of any UK political party.”

He added: “Our first fundraising appeal of 2022 will be for the council elections which take place in just over 100 days. Anything else will follow that.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said the refusal to disclose where the funds are raised questions about transparency.

He said: “If the nationalists have this little interest in transparency when it comes to their own membership, what does that say about how they treat the whole country?

“Given that Nicola Sturgeon has no real prospect of delivering on her pledge of an independence referendum in 2023, any nationalist who puts their hand in their pocket on that pretext has to assume that the SNP will just spend the money on whatever they fancy.”

The Herald: Ian Murray MP

Labour MP Ian Murray said the party had to "come clean" about what had happened with the cash.

The party's shadow Scottish secretary said: "“Questions have been piling up about this money but the picture is only getting murkier.

“Every time they are given the chance to shed some light on the situation, they refuse.

“The SNP’s trademark cocktail of arrogance and secrecy is plain to see.

“This debacle is an insult to their members - but as long as they are in government it should worry us all.

“The SNP need to stop stonewalling and come clean about what’s gone on here.”

Scottish Conservative Chief Whip, Stephen Kerr said the refusal to explain what the money had been spent on was an example of how the SNP " increasingly sees itself as above the scrutiny of parliament, the press and the Scottish public."

He said: "It is a mark of how arrogant the SNP have become, that even with an ongoing police investigation into the missing £600,000, they are still obfuscating.

“The SNP must cooperate fully with the ongoing Police Scotland investigation and ensure they hand over all material that is relevant to the police’s investigation.”