SNP accountants Johnston Carmichael have resigned just days after Nicola Sturgeon’s husband was arrested by police investigating the political party’s finances, plunging the party into deeper crisis.
The firm, which has audited SNP accounts for more than a decade said their decision to quit was taken after a review of its client portfolio.
BBC Scotland reports that Johnston Carmichael resigned as SNP accountants before police searched the home of Scotland’s former first minister Strugeon and husband Peter Murrell, the SNP’s former chief executive.
Murrell was arrested by police as part of their probe into SNP finances and released without charge pending further inquiries. The police investigation into £600,000 of donations to the SNP was launched in July 2021. On Wednesday dozens of officers conducted a high profile search of Murrell’s Glasgow home. At the same time, officers searched SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.
Sturgeon’s resignation as party leader and first minister in February was a major shock. In March, her husband caused similar levels of surprise when he suddenly stepped down as SNP chief executive – after more than two decades in the role – following a row over party membership numbers.
The decision by the SNP accountants to has deepened the turmoil in the party which now has to find a new firm to audit their accounts which are legally required to be submitted to the Electoral Commission before July 7. If the party fails to do so, they will be subject to large fines
Humza Yousaf narrowly beat Kate Forbes in the election to replace Sturgeon as party leader and Scotland’s first minister.
A senior supporter of Forbes, commenting on the resignation of the SNP accountants, told the Telegraph: “If a firm of chartered accountants makes a statement they are not willing to carry out an audit, there’s usually a serious disagreement with the client. There may be some irregularity or impropriety.
“The big picture is there’s so many questions that require an answer and they are not going to go away. They are going to suppurate like a festering wound. Until they are answered, the new first minister will be the victim of collateral damage.
“It’s necessary for Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell to start giving answers to all these questions. What on Earth is going on?”
A spokesperson for the SNP said Johnston Carmichael informed the party their decision to stand down as auditors was taken “following a review of our client portfolio and existing resources and commitments.”
The spokesperson said the SNP’s national treasurer is “undertaking a tendering process for alternative provision” and has informed the Electoral Commission of their position.