SNP auditors quit six months ago, Humza Yousaf confirms
The firm tasked with auditing the SNP’s finances resigned half a year ago, party leader Humza Yousaf has revealed.
The first minister said it was “one of the major priorities” to find a replacement as soon as possible so the party can submit its annual accounts to the Electoral Commission by the July deadline.
Yousaf described the situation was “problematic” and also confirmed he was unaware the auditors had resigned until after being elected SNP leader last month.
He has now instructed an internal governance and transparency review to go ahead, the details of which will be ironed out at the next meeting of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) this weekend.
The fact that the independent auditors, Johnston Carmichael, has resigned surfaced over the weekend but it was not clear when.
Speaking to journalists in Edinburgh, Yousaf said: “They resigned last year. I think it was around about October last year.”
He added: “The fact that we don’t have auditors in place is one of the major priorities. As you can imagine, when I found that out, being the party leader, the party is quickly looking to secure another auditor.”
He said he was unable to say why the firm resigned, but said: “It's certainly problematic, I won't deny that at all. That’s why one of the first things I did as leader on hearing this information, was to instruct the party to get on with finding another auditor, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Peter Murrell – who was last week arrested and released without charge after being questioned by police as part of an investigation into party finances – was chief executive at the time of the resignation.
Yousaf confirmed Murrell continues to be a member of the SNP, but said the party would not pay any legal fees. He said: “We’ve taken a decision as a party not to pay those legal fees, given he’s no longer the chief executive of the party. I think that’s pretty reasonable.”
Under law, the party is required to submit annual accounts to the Electoral Commission which have been independently audited. The Commission has been made aware of the issue and Yousaf said his party was “working very hard” to ensure the accounts are filed on time.
An SNP spokesperson previously said: “We can confirm that Johnston Carmichael will not be providing audit services to the SNP this year. The national treasurer is undertaking a tendering process for alternative provision and we have advised the Electoral Commission of that position.”
A spokesperson for Johnston Carmichael said: “As a regulated organisation, we adhere to our obligations on client confidentiality and do not discuss client business.”
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