THE whistleblower who triggered a police probe into the SNP's funding and finances says there should be an inquiry into how the force 'dragged its feet' in pursuing the case - while he became a hate figure.

He first lodged his complaint with police over two years ago, in late March, 2021 over how funds raised for a second independence referendum campaign had not been ringfenced and had been spent on other things without permission.

He says it was met with initial resistance before he had to lodge another with the police in January this year over what he believed was a lack of progress in the case.

In the meantime he says he was accused of being "a traitor to Scotland" and of trying to destroy the Humza Yousaf-led SNP.

He raised concerns over the speed of action and raised fears that the "rich and powerful" were being treated differently to ordinary members of the public.

As the wheels of justice dragged, he says he was accused variously of being a "crank", "a traitor to Scotland", of trying to bring down the SNP and even an MI5 agent by some.

The SNP had raised £666,953 through appeals between 2017 and 2020 with a pledge to spend these funds on a future independence campaign - but allegations surfaced that the money was diverted from the “ring-fenced” fund – sparking the exit of senior people from the SNP.

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On Wednesday, Colin Beattie, 71, resigned as SNP treasurer after his arrest the previous day as part of the police investigation codenamed Operation Branchform. He was also subsequently released without charge pending further inquiries.

The Herald:

Colin Beattie

Video: The scene outside SNP treasurer Colin Beattie's house in Dalkeith, after he was arrested in connection with a police investigation into the party's finances.

It followed the arrest of chief executive Peter Murrell, former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband on April 5, in connection with a Police Scotland probe.

Their home in Glasgow and the party’s headquarters in Edinburgh were searched.

A luxury campervan was later seized by police investigating the SNP’s finances. It was reportedly taken from Mr Murrell’s mother’s driveway in Fife and was said by insiders to have been bought for use as a SNP “battle bus”.

Mr Murrell was later released without charge pending further inquiries.

"If it was Joe Public things would have been kickstarted very early. Someone has to be responsible for this," the whistleblower said, who says all money should be refunded and that there should be a public apology.

"My motive is not to bring down the SNP, it is to see justice done."

He said when he first went to Helen Street police station in Glasgow at the end of March, 2021 with a complaint after he heard from two friends who were concerned about what was happening with their donations to the independence fund - he was not believed.

The whistleblower said: "I went to register a complaint against Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon. A senior officer said we won't be able to take that complaint, that I was out of order and that there was no way he was doing that.

"He said I am not going to take a complaint in relation to Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell. It was like I was off my head and a nutcase. I was definitely rational. I had evidence. I knew it wasn't right.

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"So I went to Barrhead police station two days later and reported it again.

This time he says representatives of the financial crimes unit went to his Barrhead home and took a full statement.

But an investigation into criminality did not officially launch until July 2021 by which time there were said to have been seven complaints. Police Scotland then said it was consulting with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

In the months preceding the announcement of the probe, three senior figures – including SNP treasurer Douglas Chapman, SNP MP Joanna Cherry – quit the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

The Herald:

Mr Chapman had complained that a lack of transparency about the finances had prevented him carrying out “fiduciary duties”. Police had initially said it was assessing complaints of irregularity.

The whistleblower said that towards the end of 2021, he received "intimidation" on his doorstep from two officers who were querying what his motives were for lodging the complaint.

"A sergeant and a police constable turned up at my door, in uniform," he recalled.

"And they say what is all this about a complaint you have made to the police, why did you do it and blah blah blah, and it was intimidation on my doorstep. They are trying to pressurise me on the doorstep of my own home. It was very very strange."

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He said the impression he got was that the complaint should be withdrawn.

"I called the economic crimes unit and was told that it would not happen again."

He said another initial complainant to the police withdrew - and believed that he had felt under too much pressure - leaving him as the last of the first whistleblowers.

By May, 2022, it was understood that criminal complaints were lodged by at least 19 people.

As the probe dragged on, he said he had become a hate figure.

"I have been called a traitor to Scotland, an MI5 agent, all sorts," he added. "People on social media were attacking. But I stuck to my guns. A complaint was made. The other complainer? I don't think they wanted to be identified as bringing down Nicola Sturgeon.

"People had been too silent for too long. That is why I made the complaint.

The Herald:

Officers from Police Scotland at the home of former SNP chief executive of Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow who was "released without charge pending further investigation".


"The attacks are from cybernats and Nicola worshippers, they don't think for themselves.

"Instead of asking what is this about, they just mudsling. I just simply want honesty. I support independence and always will. If there is corruption, independence is corrupted.

"It doesn't just affect the SNP, it affects the general public who donated to the fund. People who support independence are also just ordinary members of the public. How can you go for independence with the possibility of corruption?

"There has to be integrity, decency, honesty and accountability. You cannot have the possibility of corruption when you are going for independence."

In January he said he lodged a complaint with the police concerned that after nearly two years "we appear to be no further forward with this case" and says there should eventually be an inquiry into how the probe was conducted.

He told Police Scotland: "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."

His complaint went on: "Where did the money go? Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, Colin Beattie and Nicola Sturgeon have serious questions to answer and should have been questioned long before now.

"I appeal to you in Police Scotland to police without fear or favour in this matter as the whole of Scotland is watching to see if justice prevails..."

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “COPFS will continue to work with police in this ongoing investigation.

“It is standard practice that any case regarding politicians is dealt with by prosecutors without the involvement of the Law Officers.”

Police Scotland said: “As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

The Herald:

On Friday, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross wrote to Humza Yousaf to raise “legitimate and urgent” questions over the SNP’s finances.

The letter to the First Minister contained 10 questions regarding the party’s financial issues.

The SNP accused Mr Ross of “playing politics” with the police investigation, saying he is “not fit for opposition no matter office”.

The Scottish Conservatives' leader had sought to raise the issue at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, but Holyrood’s rules mean the session must focus on Government business.

Mr Yousaf nevertheless conceded during the session that there are “serious issues” relating to the party which he said he will not “shy away from”.

He has ordered a review into the governance and transparency of the SNP.

A new treasurer to replace Mr Beattie, who stepped down following his arrest, is expected to be appointed shortly.

In his letter, Mr Ross asks about a £100,000 campervan bought by the SNP which was apparently never used.

The Herald:

The home of SNP treasurer Colin Beattie in Dalkeith, after he was arrested in connection with a police investigation into the party's finances 

He also asks about the spending of money raised in the SNP’s online independence referendum appeals.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Mr Yousaf said the SNP still owes money to Mr Murrell following a loan to the party in 2021.

He said the party is “not facing bankruptcy” and is on a “steady footing” financially.