NICOLA Sturgeon’s husband is facing questions about a personal loan to the SNP of more than £100,000 which he failed to declare on time to election watchdogs.

Peter Murrell, the chief executive of the SNP, gave the money to the party to help it with a "cash flow" problem after the Holyrood election.

However the Scottish Tories said it was "beyond odd" that the party's most senior official would need to bail it out with a six-figure sum.

It could also suggest financial difficulties at the party of government.

Scottish Labour demanded to know if Ms Sturgeon played any role.

Despite Mr Murrell running the SNP for more than 20 years, the party claimed it didn't realise a £100,000 loan would need to be reported.

Parties must report all loans of more than £7,500.

“The SNP’s claim that they didn’t originally think they were obliged to report a loan of this size takes some believing,” said Scottish Tory chair Craig Hoy.

The Electoral Commission confirmed the loan was reported late, but said it decided not to sanction the SNP given its "good compliance record".

The SNP ended 2021 with a deficit of £751,572 after spending £5,259,805 against an income of £4,510,560.

By the end of the year its reserves were down from £1,362,337 to £610,765, with its cash down from £260,565 to £144,975.

Commission records show Mr Murrell loaned the SNP £107,620 in June 2021.


The Herald:

It should have been declared by the end of July last year, 30 days after the quarter in which the loan was made.

However the records state that it was not reported to the Commission until August this year - more than a year late.

The records show £47,620 of the loan was repaid to Mr Murrell in two tranches in August and October 2021, but £60,000 remains outstanding.

Although the Commission records identify Mr Murrell as the individual who loaned the money to the party, his identity was cloaked in the SNP’s own accounts for 2021.

These refer only to “loans from executive management”, with no name supplied.

The notes to the accounts state a loan of £107,620 was “introduced in the year”, and that there were still £60,000 of “loans payable at 31st December 2021”.

Mr Murrell's loan coincided with the police starting to look into whether the party had committed fraud by raising more than £660,000 since 2017 specifically to fight an Indyref2 campaign, then spending some of the money on other things in the absence of another referendum.

Police Scotland were asked to look into the matter in spring 2021, and launched a formal investigation on 13 July 2021. It remains ongoing.

The SNP accounts for 2021 said the party has already spent more than a third of its Indyref2 fighting fund despite the lack of a vote.

They said that by the end of last year it had spent £253,335 out of a total of £740,822 raised by its referendum appeal since 2017.

READ MORE: Police Scotland launch 'fraud' probe into SNP fundraising for Indyref2

Mr Murrell’s loan was first reported by the Wings Over Scotland website.

Mr Hoy said: “The role played by Peter Murrell in the SNP grows murkier by the day.

“It is beyond odd for the SNP chief executive – and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – to be lending his employer a six-figure sum of money.

“This highly unusual move comes on top of an ongoing police probe into the ‘missing’ £600k of donations. This cash was meant to be ring-fenced for another indyref campaign, yet a string of people left senior posts in the party citing a lack of financial transparency.

“It’s high time the SNP came clean to their own members about what is actually going on and explained why their chief executive is making such large loans to the party his wife leads.”

Scottish Labour Business Manager Neil Bibby added: “This is highly irregular and the First Minister’s part if any in providing these secret loans needs further investigation. 

“The saga surrounding the SNP’s finances just keeps getting murkier, from the questions around the notorious £600k to the unexplained resignation of the party’s finance committee. 

“The SNP operate under a veil of secrecy and cover-up by default, but the public deserve transparency about the dealings going on in the party of government.”

Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said: “It's very strange that a party we were told was so well funded is getting a £100k handout from its chief executive.

“There are already serious questions being asked of the SNP over the £600k of missing member's money being investigated by police.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “The loan was reported in our 2021 accounts, which were published by the Electoral Commission in mid-August.

"The nature of this transaction was initially not thought to give rise to a reporting obligation.

"However, as it had been recorded in the party's 2021 accounts as a loan, it was accordingly then reported to the Electoral Commission as a regulated transaction.

"This was a personal contribution made by the chief executive to assist with cashflow after the Holyrood election.”

READ MORE: SNP spends a third of its Indyref2 fund despite uncertainty over a vote taking place

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: "The Electoral Commission’s Enforcement Policy sets out how we regulate in a way that is effective, proportionate and fair. 

"Where we find that offences have been committed, we carefully consider the circumstances in deciding whether to take enforcement action. 

"While the loan was reported late, taking into account all of the circumstances, including the party’s good compliance record, we decided to address the late reporting in this case via guidance to the party.”