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by Kirsteen Paterson
25 April 2023
SNP finance row: Stephen Flynn suggests Ian Blackford gave false assurances about party auditors

Ian Blackford, top left, and Stephen Flynn, standing

SNP finance row: Stephen Flynn suggests Ian Blackford gave false assurances about party auditors

The leader of the SNP's Westminster group has accused his predecessor of giving false assurances about the appointment of new auditors.

SNP MPs are, as a group, seeking new auditors ahead of the May 31 deadline for their accounts after their previous company quit.

Johnston Carmichael ended its contract with the Westminster group and the party in September.

The news emerged as part of the row relating to SNP finances, and the police probe around money raised from donations to fight a second independence referendum.

The row has now seen current group leader Stephen Flynn and his predecessor Ian Blackford accuse each other of supplying false assurances over the appointment of new auditors.

Blackford, who was ousted by Flynn last year, told the BBC that Flynn assured him that a new auditor had been found in a call earlier this month. Blackford also stated that the party "will be able to meet our obligations and liability going forward".

However, no appointment has been made. This afternoon Flynn told journalists that he is "hopeful" this will happen soon, but no "categorical assurances" could or should be made that the group will meet its deadline.

Failure to do so could cost it £1.2m in short money.

Speaking at an event for the Institute for Government (IfG), Flynn said: "Those that have provided categorical assurances in relation to that would have probably been wise not to have done so."

However, posting on Twitter, Blackford said: "Let me be quite categoric that I was found on the 7th April by Stephen and told this information".

At the IfG event, Flynn stated: "Is it the case that we've been working to secure an audit firm? Absolutely it is the case. Am I hopeful that we'll be able to do that? Absolutely. Does that equate to having an audit firm in place, does that equate to having certainty that I will be able to meet the deadlines which have been placed upon us by the House of Commons? No, and I'm not going to provide a categorial assurance in relation to that - and those that have provided categorical assurances in relation to that would probably have been wise not to have done so."

Flynn went on: "The process to secure an auditor is still very much under way, as it was when myself and Ian spoke. I think it might have been on the seventh of April. So there's obviously steps that we now need to take in order to meet the obligations of the House of Commons. We have been in constant contact with them."

Confirming that an extension to the deadline had been sought, he said: "It's my understanding that the 31st of May is the deadline and that's what needs to be kept."

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