THE money that went into the contest to pick Scotland’s First Minister is set to remain a secret, despite all the candidates promising more transparency.

Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan have chosen not to record their income or spending for the SNP race in their Holyrood register of interests.

Each was allowed to spend £5,000 in their bid to succeed Nicola Sturgeon and to accept donations of up to £50 from individual party members.

The donations fall short of the statutory threshold for a declaration, which is laid down in law, and was £330 when the race was being conducted.

However the law and the code of conduct for MSPs also allow for voluntary declarations, letting the candidates say how they were funded and what they spent on campaigning.

Ms Forbes previously volunteered receiving a £48 rugby match ticket in her parliamentary register of interests.

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All the SNP leadership candidates held launch and campaign events in indoor venues, and used social media, videos, photographers and spin doctors to promote themselves in the campaign. 

Yet despite the contest starting with a row about SNP HQ secrecy over member numbers and promises of greater transparency in future from the trip, the voluntary option has not been taken up. 

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “While no rules have been broken here, you would think the candidates would be happy to volunteer this information, if only to try to shed the SNP’s reputation for obsessive secrecy.”

The deadline for any stautory updates to the register of interests passed on Friday, 60 days after the result on March 27, but voluntary declarations could yet be made in future.

The lack of financial clarity is in spite of the candidates providing SNP national secretary Lorna Finn with a full breakdown of their expenditure in early April.

Under rule 8.1 of the contest, all candidates were told they “must complete a Statement of Expenditure within fourteen days of the election”.

With the candidates taking part in 15 hustings around the country, travel, accommodation and food did not count towards the £5,000 spending cap.

However they had to itemise all their other spending, including websites, video production, social media advertising, printed material, and hustings.

The candidates, or their campaign managers, also had to submit invoices for each item costing more than £10.

On donations, they were told: “Candidates must only accept donations from individuals who are members eligible to vote in the election. No candidate may accept a donation of more than £50 from any individual.”

The restrictions, seen by some as SNP HQ trying to tilt the race in Mr Yousaf’s favour by limiting publicity for his opponents, were in contrast to recent Scottish Labour races.

In 2017, Anas Sarwar declared donations of more than £155,000 in donations in his failed bid to lead the party, while the winner Richard Leonard declared more than £64,000.

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In his successful 2021 race against Monica Lennon, Mr Sarwar declared another £61,000 in donations.

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “The First Minister’s MSP Register of Interest is fully up to date.”

Ms Forbes and Ms Regan were asked for comment.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “As is always the case, it is the responsibility of each Member to register and declare financial interests to ensure they comply with the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act."