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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
11 August 2023
Humza Yousaf told the SNP National Executive Committee governance and financial oversight had to be improved

Humza Yousaf speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe | Alamy

Humza Yousaf told the SNP National Executive Committee governance and financial oversight had to be improved

Humza Yousaf has said the first thing he did as first minister was to call for an improvement in the SNP’s governance and financial oversight.  

The first minister was speaking on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe with broadcaster Iain Dale. During the sit-down interview, he was asked what he has done as leader of the SNP to ensure that mistakes relating to party governance and oversight of finances are handled.  

Yousaf told the audience the “first thing” he did while chairing the SNP NEC was to ensure that “governance and financial oversight” is “improved in this party”.

The first minister said: “It was the first thing that I did at the first National Executive [Committee] meeting that I chaired as first minister was to say we don’t know the outcome of this investigation, but I can tell you now governance and financial oversight has to be improved in this party.   

“We instructed Mike Russell, and he’s rolled up his sleeves, along with the national secretary and they’ve got a big team around them that have got stuck into a really good governance review and we are going to present that at the national convention.”

He added: “You can have all the best procedures in the world in place, I have to be careful what I say here, but that doesn’t necessarily stop human error creeping in or worse. This investigation will take its own course, we just have to see what happens. I can’t allow myself, not just as the party leader but as first minister to be distracted.”

The discussion at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) was disrupted by a heckler who called Yousaf a “bigot” and later by climate protesters.

Speaking on the first one hundred days as first minister, Yousaf said it had not been plain sailing, saying that there have been “frustrations” trying to get things done while Police Scotland’s investigation into the SNP’s finances continues.  

He said: “Our big challenge in the first one hundred days has undoubtedly been getting that cut through at a time when police investigations have dominated.”  

Yousaf continued: “When we had that April recess, I thought ok, we have a real chance to shape the agenda, and of course two days in Peter Murrell gets arrested and that gets blown out of the water.  

“My prospectus, that was my document on what we were going to achieve and deliver in the next three years. When I was walking into parliament, I got a call that a colleague had been arrested, and that dominates.   

“So, there have been frustrations for sure.”

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