THE SNP’s Westminster leader has revealed he wasn’t told the party’s auditors had quit until two months after getting the job.

Stephen Flynn said the first he knew of Johnston Carmichael resigning last September was an email on February 10, despite becoming group leader on December 6.

Mr Flynn’s predecessor Ian Blackford last week insisted “all appropriate information” had been given to Mr Flynn’s team at the end of 2022.

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

The opposition said the SNP was now a "juggernaut of chaos".

In an interview on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Flynn suggested the SNP’s failure to find new auditors was linked to the police investigation into its finances.

“There’s been undoubted challenges in relation to the party in recent weeks and months,” he said, also blaming greater demand for auditors at the close of the financial year. 

Police Scotland has been investigating the SNP’s finances since July 2021 after complaints £660,000 raised specifically for Indyref2 may have been spent on other things.

Former chief executive Peter Murrell, the husband of Nicola Sturgeon, was arrested and released without charge on April 5 after questioning by detectives.

READ MORE: SNP donors urged to get Indyref2 refunds while they can

Officers searched the couple’s Glasgow home and seized a luxury £110,000 motorhome from outside the Dunfermline home of Mr Murrell’s 92-year-old mother the same day.

On April 18, then SNP treasurer Colin Beattie, the MSP for Musselburgh, was also arrested and released without charge after questioning by officers as part of the same investigation.

He quit as treasurer the next day, and was replaced on Saturday by MP Stuart McDonald.

Mr Yousaf has said finding new auditors is a priority for the SNP, as it faces a series of deadlines related to its finances.

It must file an auditor’s certificate with the Commons by May 31 to show it spent £1.15million of state support known as Short Money properly in 2022/23, or the funding will stop.

It must also file accounts for its £1.5m-a-year Westminster group and £4.5m-a-year central party by July 7 with the Electoral Commission.

Mr Yousaf has said the party is aiming to meet the deadlines, but may need to ask the Commission for an extension for filing its 2022 accounts.

Mr Flynn today admitted the Westminster group may also miss the May 31 deadline for certifying its Short Money spending, and so lose access to the £1.2m fund in 2023/24. 

Asked when he learned the SNP auditors had resigned, the Aberdeen South MP said: “The 10th of February, I think it was. I received an email from our finance officer to advise me of the situation.

“It's an official within our team at Westminster, who advised me.”

Asked about Mr Blackford saying he had found out at the end of last year, and that his team had “given you a very firm and detailed briefing about the situation”, Mr Flynn said: “I became fully aware of the situation in February, as I said to you.

“I received an email from our finance officer who advised me that, back in September, the party's auditors had opted not to continue, and we needed to find our own.

“So since then we've been in the process of trying to find our own, because it's important that we are able to undertake our commitments in that regard.”

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn admits Westminster SNP may lose £1.2m in auditor crisis

Mr Flynn was then read Mr Blackford’s quote of last week in which he said: “All the relevant information… all the appropriate information to deal with the finances of the Westminster group has been handed over to those who have responsibility for that [in December]”.

Mr Flynn said: “There may well have been discussions between other people, but certainly in relation to myself, I became fully aware of the situation on the 10th of February.”

Asked his reaction when he found out, he said: “To be honest, I thought it would be a relatively straightforward process to go and secure new auditors, and that's obviously proven not to be the case.

“And it's proven not to be the case for a number of reasons.

“ I understand there's a bit of a shortage within the audit market. 

“Obviously, time has been an issue as well, because we're now at the end of the financial year and everyone's seeking to do the same thing. 

“And of course, we've had the additional pressures brought on by the fact that there's been undoubted challenges in relation to the party in recent weeks and months. 

“So I did think it would be a relatively straightforward process, but that’s turned out not to be the case.”

Asked if he thought voters would agree with Mr Brown’s boast about SNP transparency given multiple secrecy issues in the party, Mr Flynn said: “Pretty much every aspect of the internal workings of the Scottish National Party has been discussed in recent weeks.

“I think it's safe to say that voters are fully aware of both the challenges and the successes that we have.”

Asked about the party misleading the media about losing 30,000 members, Mr Flynn said some Scottish parties didn’t publish any membership figures.

Reminded the SNP only published its 72,186 figure in March after the candidates for the party leadership demanded it, Mr Flynn said: “Yeah, I don't think that was good enough.

“All of us, every single one of us, has rightly been frustrated and disappointed by that process - that should never have been allowed to happen.

“If there’s a membership number, just say it. 

“I'm not entirely sure what the big issue is in that regard, and hopefully, moving forward, we can continue to publish our membership numbers on a regular basis.

“And I would challenge all the other parties to do so.

“But I guess they perhaps may be a little bit embarrassed.

“Some of them may need a phone box to have the conferences in comparison to ourselves, but we can deal with that matter going forward.”

Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said: “This entire mess is a juggernaut of chaos. I feel sorry for junior SNP staff who are being badly let down by those who hold the purse strings.

“It beggars belief that there could be such a murky lack of transparency at the core of Scotland’s governing party.

"To make matters worse, the SNP group still hasn’t appointed new auditors, even as the legal deadline for doing so looms closer.  

“Scots who want to see SNP parliamentarians focussed on NHS waiting lists, broken down ferries and the sewage being pumped into rivers will be shaking their heads.”

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie said “This astounding admission shows just how deep the culture of secrecy runs in the SNP.

“There are serious questions to answer about why even leadership figures were kept in the dark about the chaos surrounding their finances.

“The SNP must come clean about what has gone so badly wrong here and why they went to such extraordinary lengths to cover it up.

“Scotland deserves so much better than this arrogant and sleaze-ridden party.”