The Scottish National party’s treasurer, Colin Beattie, has been arrested as a suspect in the police investigation into the party’s funding and finances.
Police Scotland said Beattie, 71, had been taken into custody and was being interviewed by detectives.
Beattie’s detention follows the arrest earlier this month of Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon’s husband and the former chief executive of the SNP, at their home in Glasgow, and the seizure of a motorhome parked outside Murrell’s mother’s house in Fife.
Murrell was released later that day without charge, pending further investigation.
Beattie, the SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh and a former banker, had previously served as party treasurer for 16 years until he lost the post in an internal election to Douglas Chapman.
In a brief statement, the force said: “A 71-year-old man has today, Tuesday, 18 April 2023, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National party.
“The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives. A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”
The police investigation was launched in 2021 after complaints were made about the SNP’s handling of over £600,000 in donations given to the party, ostensibly for a fresh independence referendum campaign launched in 2019.
It emerged that money was not put into a separate, segregated SNP account but Sturgeon said it was all accounted for, and the equivalent figure would be spent by the party on that referendum campaign.
Speaking in 2021, Sturgeon said: “Money hasn’t gone missing; all money goes through the SNP accounts independently all fully audited.
“We don’t hold separate accounts – we’re under no legal requirement to do that. Our accounts are managed on a cashflow basis, but every penny we raise to support the campaign for independence will be spent on the campaign for independence.”
On Saturday, Beattie reportedly told the SNP executive committee the party was having difficulty balancing its books because it had lost 30,000 members over the last 12 months and had to extra costs to pay due to the police investigation.
Humza Yousaf, the newly elected SNP leader, insisted however that the party was solvent.
Beattie backed Yousaf’s main rival in the party leadership contest, Kate Forbes.