THE man who triggered the police investigation into a potential donations fraud at the SNP has launched a scathing attack on the apparent lack of progress in the case.

Sean Clerkin has lodged a complaint with Police Scotland after it emerged the party’s leadership had yet to be questioned 18 months after the probe officially began.

He said Nicola Sturgeon, her husband the SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and SNP treasurer Colin Beattie “should have been questioned long before now”.

Mr Clerkin, a former SNP council candidate in Glasgow and independence campaigner, also complained the force had failed to update him on developments. 

He also highlighted the dual role of the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain KC, who is both the head of Scotland’s prosecution service and one of Ms Sturgeon’s ministers.

The intervention comes amid growing disquiet at Holyrood about the length of the investigation, codenamed Operation Branchform.

READ MORE: Sturgeon - I and chief exec husband will not wield too much power inside SNP

Mr Clerkin sparked the inquiry when he gave a statement to the police in March 2021 about the party’s fundraising for a second independence referendum.

The SNP had raised more than £660,000 since 2017 specifically for an Indyref2 campaign, but then spent some of the money on other things in the absence of another vote.

Mr Beattie insisted “amounts equivalent to the sums raised” would be spent on campaigning in future but refused to identify this money as a ringfenced fund in the SNP accounts.

After Mr Clerkin gave his statement, Police Scotland initially said it was assessing “a complaint of alleged financial regularity”.

But in July 2021, it updated its position and said that after receiving seven complaints and consulting with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service it would carry out a full investigation into possible criminality and appealed to the public for relevant information.

The SNP said it would “cooperate fully” and insisted any sums raised would be spent on independence campaigning.

It recently said it had spent more than £250,000 of its independence fighting fund despite the lack of a referendum.

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

Last week the Sunday Times reported a forensic examination of SNP accounts prompted the police to ask the Crown Office for permission to question the party’s leadership.

However the Crown Office had asked for more time to consider whether officers should interview Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell, the paper said.

Mr Clerkin told the Herald he had been unaware that Police Scotland had made an interim report to prosecutors until it was reported in the media.

In his letter he told the force he was “appalled” at this lack of information as well as the slow pace.

He wrote: “Nearly two years later we appear to be no further forward with this case.

“If this had been any ordinary member of the general public they would have been questioned under caution long before now, but because it involves senior members of the political establishment in Scotland I believe that this investigation is being compromised.

“£600,000 was donated by nearly 2,000 people for a second referendum for Scottish Independence and the money disappeared to be spent on other things without the permission of the donors. Where did the money go? 

“This, to any reasonable person, would amount to misappropriation of funds.

“Peter Murrell Chief Executive of the SNP, Colin Beattie Treasurer and the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have serious questions to answer and should have been questioned long before now. I appeal to you to police without fear or favour in this matter as the whole of Scotland is watching.”

Tory MSP Russell Findlay said: “This only adds to the growing disquiet about how this case is being handled. It is absolutely vital to have full transparency around this SNP fraud investigation no matter how uncomfortable that might be for certain people.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A report which outlines enquiries already undertaken and seeks further instruction has been submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. We are working closely with COPFS as the investigation continues.”

READ MORE: Sturgeon's husband in row over 'murky' £100,000 loan to SNP

The Crown Office and SNP were asked for comment.

The Crown Office has previously said it will continue to work with the police and it is “standard practice” that the Lord Advocate is not involved in cases featuring politicians.

The SNP recently said it was co-operating fully with the investigation.