After Peter Murrell’s resignation, the SNP is in financial disarray

Files released under Freedom of Information show that Peter Murrell’s abrupt exit led the party to seek information about a taxpayer-funded grant worth nearly £150,000.

They also show that the SNP turned to a new accounting firm during its financial crisis, even though Humza Yousaf had promised more transparency without saying so publicly.

Mr Murrell, who had been the top SNP official for two decades, resigned in March after SNP headquarters misled the media about falling party membership.

READ MORE: SNP kept secret possible loss of £145,000 grant due to accountancy crisis

His departure added to feelings of instability in the party following Ms Sturgeon’s resignation as party leader the previous month.

Emails released by the Electoral Commission to the Herald show that Mr Murrell personally handled the party’s annual application for a “political development grant” from the regulator.


Money paid to all parties with at least two MPs to assist them in politics, typically through hiring staff, was £145,281 for the SNP in 2022/23.

Three-quarters are paid upfront, but the remaining 25% is only paid out if an auditor’s certificate shows that the first tranche was correctly spent – otherwise the Commission can reclaim all the money paid upfront.

After winning the SNP leadership contest in late March, M. Yousaf announced that the SNP’s former examiner, Johnston Carmichael, had resigned after reviewing her client list six months earlier.

It coincided with a police investigation into the SNP’s finances.

It was known at the time that SNP headquarters and the party’s Westminster group had until July 7 to submit their respective annual accounts for 2022 to the Commission.

However, the SNP did not disclose that it also faces a much more pressing May 11 deadline to certify its Policy Development Grant (PDG), which Johnston Carmichael also signed.

The emails indicate that without Mr Murrell, the party had to be guided through the process by Commission staff.

On April 4, SNP’s in-house counsel, Scott Martin, wrote to the commission and admitted that he did not know the status of the grant.

He wrote: “I have not been able to find out where we are on applying for a Policy Development Grant etc as Peter is gone now. can you give me an update

“I’m not sure if you’ve already sent an email asking for an application.”

A week later, a Commission official wrote back, stating: “The audit certificate and a final cost report for the grant must be sent to us no later than May 11, 2023.”

They added: “If you could tell me who the best point of contact in the party is that would be helpful as Peter has always been my point of contact for PDGs.”


On May 3, Mr Yousaf announced that the Manchester-based AMS Accountants Group had been hired to audit the HQ and Westminster Group accounts.

However, he did not say a word that the PDG had not yet been signed.

The FoI material shows that this was only confirmed by another accounting firm, Thomson Cooper Accountants, based in Dunfermline, on the cut-off date of 11 May.

READ MORE: SNP receives just £4,000 in donations in first three months of 2023

It was forwarded to the commission that day by SNP acting chief executive Sue Ruddick.

On May 19, Mr. Martin contacted the Commission again, inquiring about PDG funds.

“Do you have the 2023/2024 grant allocation and application form? I also wonder if you have a deadline for paying the 25% now that we have the test certificate.”

He was told the outstanding 25% would be approved by the Director and CEO of the Commission within two weeks and the £36,320 was released for release on 26 May.

SNP was asked to comment on its competence and transparency.

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