Ex-SNP treasurer Colin Beattie ‘unaware’ party had bought £100,000 motorhome

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Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie has said he had no knowledge of the party’s purchase of a luxury motorhome seized by police from the home of Nicola Sturgeon’s mother-in-law.

The Niesmann+Bischoff campervan, which can sell for more than £100,000, was removed from the Dunfermline home of Peter Murrell’s mother after the former SNP chief executive was arrested earlier this month as part of an inquiry into the funding and finances of the party.

Mr Murrell was later released without charge “pending further investigation”.

Mr Beattie, who quit as treasurer last week after being arrested and released without charge in connection with the probe, made the admission to journalists at Holyrood on Tuesday.

Asked if he knew about the vehicle purchase, Mr Beattie said: “No, I didn’t know about it.”

First minister Humza Yousaf recently told Sky News the state-of-the-art vehicle was an SNP asset and was part of the warrant list of items seized by police.

Officers from Police Police outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was "released without charge pending further investigation", after he was arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into the party's finances. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023.
Police Scotland officers at the home of Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow

The long-running probe is linked to the spending of around £600,000 raised by supporters to be earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning.

It is understood there have been complaints the ringfenced cash has been used improperly by being spent elsewhere.

Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s Glasgow home has been searched as part of the investigation. Officers were also seen removing boxes from SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

The party said it has been “cooperating fully” with the investigation and would “continue to do so”.

Officers from Police Scotland outside the headquarters of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Edinburgh following the arrest of former chief executive Peter Murrell. Police Scotland are conducting searches at a number of properties in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the party. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023.
Police at SNP headquarters in Edinburgh

Read more:
Why it’s likely police will want to interview Nicola Sturgeon
Yousaf ‘didn’t know’ about SNP motorhome until he became leader
SNP has ‘nothing to hide’, says deputy leader who was not told auditors had quit

While speaking to the media, Mr Beattie denied the SNP is in danger of going bust.

“The SNP is in the black,” he said.

However, he did admit: “We’re a going concern, definitely.”

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Mr Beattie was arrested and released without charge amid a probe into the SNP’s funding and finances

The party’s auditors quit last year and have yet to be replaced, with the SNP Westminster group at risk of missing out on £1.2m from Westminster authorities, known as Short money, if it fails to submit audited accounts by 31 May.

MP Stuart McDonald became the new SNP treasurer on Saturday.

Asked why the party was having such trouble appointing new auditors, Mr Beattie said: “Partly, that’s a market situation.”

He made no comment when asked if he should be suspended from the SNP following his arrest, but said he has “no plans at the moment” to resign from Holyrood’s Economy and Fair Work Committee, adding that he believes he is a “fit and proper person” to serve on it.

The MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh was also asked if his arrest was the worst thing which has ever happened to him.

He replied: “No, I was in Beirut actually when I was under artillery fire.

“That was worse.”

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