A LOAN made by Nicola Sturgeon’s husband to the SNP to help bail out its finances broke reporting rules on three separate occasions, it has emerged.

Files released to the Herald by the Electoral Commission show the £107,620 loaned by Peter Murrell, the party’s chief executive, led to multiple “compliance issues”. 

Ms Sturgeon was yesterday mocked after saying she “can’t recall” when she first learned her husband gave the party she leads a six-figure sum.

She told a Scottish Government press event: “My husband is an individual and he will take decisions about what he does with resources that belong to him in line.”

Pressed on when she knew Mr Murrell gave the money, she said: “I can’t recall exactly when I first knew that”, stressing the loan came from “his resources” not hers.

When she knew is important because the loan was reported late, and it is possible she failed to act to ensure it was reported on time.

Parties must declare all loans of £7,500 or more within 30 days of the quarter in which they are given, but the SNP failed to declare Mr Murrell’s loan to it for a year.

The money was given in June 2021 to “assist with cashflow” after the Holyrood election campaign, but not declared until August 2022.

The party cloaked Mr Murrell’s identity in its 2021 accounts, saying the interest-free loan came from unnamed “executive management”.

Despite Mr Murrell running the SNP for 20 years, the party has insisted it did not believe the loan gave rise to a reporting obligation.

The Commission’s in-house database, released under freedom of information, shows the loan was linked to three late reporting “compliance issues” - one regarding the loan itself, and two more regarding changes to it when the SNP repaid some of the money.  

Two payments totalling £47,620 should have been reported in 2021, but were not reported until 2022.

The database entry states: “1 x late reported loan of £107,620 from Peter Murrell which should have been reported in Q2 2021. 2 x late reported part repayments of the same loan which should have been reported in Q3 & Q4 2021.”

The Commission gave the SNP “guidance” on the late declarations, rather than a fine, as the party had an otherwise clean record.

Although logged on the Commisison website last August, the loan was not widely reported until December after being flagged by the pro-independence Wings Over Scotland website.

A senior finance official at the watchdog emailed colleagues explaining what had happened.

“The key points are yes it’s a late declaration, we followed our normal process when taking decisions on late declarations, and the party have received guidance,” they wrote at the time.

Scottish Tory party chair Craig Hoy said: “The circumstances surrounding this loan grow ever murkier. As well as being highly irregular in nature, the SNP committed three breaches of Electoral Commission regulations, in terms of declaring the loan and the repayments on it.

“It’s little wonder Nicola Sturgeon looked so uncomfortable when questioned about this. The public will be scratching their heads as to why and how her husband came to lend a six-figure sum to his employers - and the party she leads.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “All this information was published by the Electoral Commission in 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."