STEPHEN Flynn has conceded the SNP’s Westminster group could lose access to more than £1million of public money within weeks because of a lack of auditors.

The party’s Westminster leader said it was having “constant discussions” with the Commons authorities and admitted it was a “difficult time” for staff whose wages were paid from the cash.

He said: “It's obviously a situation which is in a state of flux.  When you're not in control of something, it's best not to make firm commitments as to what could or couldn't happen.”

The Aberdeen South MP also revealed he was kept in the dark for three months about the resignation of accountants Johnston Carmichael last September. 

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Mr Flynn was elected leader of the SNP’s 45-strong MP group on December 6, but was not told about the resignation until February 10.

His predecessor Ian Blackford claimed last week that “all appropriate information” was handed over to the new leadership team at the end of 2022.

But Mr Flynn told BBC Radio Scotland he was not informed at the time.

Humza Yousaf, who is in London today for a meeting with the Prime Minister and Mayor Sadiq Khan, has said he was not told until he became SNP leader in late March.

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown yesterday claimed his party was “one of the most transparent” in the UK.

It emerged last month that Johnston Carmichael had not only quit the SNP central party, but had also left the SNP’s Westminster group, which has an income of £1.5m a year.

Around two-thirds comes from public funds given to opposition parties by the Commons for parliamentary business based on their size and votes at the last election.

This so-called Short money was worth £1.15m to the SNP in 2022/23.

However, unless the party can produce an auditor’s certificate by May 31 showing the money was spent correctly last year, the £1.2m of funding for 2023/24 will be cut off.

Mr Blackford last week gave a categorical assurance that the deadline would be met.

But with the SNP struggling to find new auditors amid a police investigation into its finances, Mr Flynn today refused to give a firm commitment about keeping the Short money.

He said: “I'm not going to make any commitments in relation to that.

“It's obviously a situation which is in a state of flux. 

“And I think when you're not in control of something, it's best not to make firm commitments as to what could or couldn't happen. 

“And obviously, I'm very conscious of the fact that we have staff members who this relates directly to as well. So I don't want to be making any commitments that I can’t keep to.”

Asked if the SNP would lose access to £1m of Short money if it missed the May 31 deadline, Mr Flynn said: “As I understand it, that would be the case, yes.”

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Asked what protections were in place for the SNP staff paid for out of the money, he said: “We are in constant discussions with the House of Commons authorities.

“In relation to this, I've got a number of calls to make today and in coming days.

“In relation to this our treasurer [MP Peter Grant for the Westminster group] is making similar efforts to ensure that we get everything over the line, but we're not at that stage at the moment.

“I wouldn't want to incur any concern amongst staff that we aren't going to be able to meet our deadlines. 

“We're doing everything possible to ensure that that is the case. 

“And as I'm sure you can imagine, it is probably quite a difficult time for them, so I'm not sure that speculating is the best thing to do.”

The Sunday Times revealed yesterday that Mr Blackford’s predecessor as Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, was paid an extra £33,000 a year on toip of his £74,000 MP's salary in a secret arrangement after the SNP landslide of 2015 made it the third largest party at Westminster.

The payment was modeled on the top-up salary for a UK Government minister or opposition chief whip at the time.

Mr Robertson, who lost his Moray seat to Tory Douglas Ross in 2017, was elected as an MSP in 2021 and is now Mr Yousaf’s constitution secretary.

After he replaced Mr Robertson, Mr Blackford stopped the arrangement.

Mr Flynn said he wasn’t getting a similar sum, but defended Mr Robertson’s pay boost.

He said: “I think broadly speaking, it's not something which I'm overly surprised about.

“The most senior member of the group in Westminster and other senior members of the group in Westminster being paid to incur the additional responsibilities which they take, I think is a very reasonable status quo to have.

“I have no I have not sought to ensure that I gain in that way I can understand why that could be the case. 

“I don't think it says necessarily something which will raise many eyebrows, particularly when we take into account the likes of leader of the opposition and all his senior folk receiving additional expenditure. 

“Obviously, a decision was taken under a previous leadership to ensure that that was the case and then subsequently a decision was taken by the by the next leader that that wasn't the case. So I guess it just depends upon circumstances.”