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by Margaret Taylor
25 April 2023
Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie did not sign off motor-home purchase

Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie did not sign off motor-home purchase

Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie has said he did not know the party had bought a motor home worth over £100,000.

Beattie, who stood down as treasurer last week after being questioned by police probing the party’s finances, was asked about the vehicle, which has been seized by police as part of their investigation.

Asked whether he knew anything about the motor home, Beattie, who was SNP treasurer from 2004 to 2020 and then again from 2021 until last week, said: “No I didn’t know about it.”

He later released a statement through the SNP in which he said he was unaware of the “transaction at the time of purchase” but became aware through the party's 2021 accounts. 

It is understood that the motor home was bought in 2021 to be used as an election ‘battle bus’ during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was, however, never used for that purpose and was instead parked outside the Dunfermline home of former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell's mother.

Its existence only came to light when Murrell was arrested earlier this month and police seized the Niesmann + Bischoff van. Murrell was released without charge after being questioned by police for a day during which the SNP’s Edinburgh headquarters and the Glasgow home Murrell shares with wife Nicola Sturgeon – the former first minister – was searched.

Beattie, who was also released without charge after being arrested by Police Scotland, told journalists he could not comment on the police investigation, but said the SNP is “in the black” and remains “a going concern”.

He also said that being questioned by police was not as bad as being under artillery fire in Beirut. Prior to going into politics Beattie worked as a banker in the Middle East and Asia.

There are growing concerns that the SNP will not be able to file its 2022 accounts ahead of the Electoral Commission’s July deadline after it was revealed that the party's former auditors, Johnstone Carmichael, stood down from the role last year.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has repeatedly said the party is looking to appoint new auditors as a matter of urgency. Beattie said the reason it had not yet done so was down to “a market situation”. Last week former business minister Ivan McKee told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that “there are more businesses looking for auditors than there are auditors available”.

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