The SNP has dismissed “nonsense” suggestions cash donations to a referendum campaign were spent redecorating the party’s offices.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party denied the claim, which emerged on Sunday, insisting all the money in the £600,000 fund will go towards campaigning for independence.
The comment comes after police said they will investigate fundraising after complaints were made.
Meanwhile, the Crown Office refused to comment on separate claims prosecutors are at “loggerheads” with Police Scotland over the probe.
Ms Sturgeon, whose husband Peter Murrell is the SNP chief executive, has been facing calls to explain why SNP accounts showed less than £97,000 in the bank, according to 2019 accounts. The party had promised to “ring fence” the donations in the 2017 fundraising drive.
The row led to resignations from the SNP’s finance and audit committee and, reportedly, around 60 requests for refunds. In May, recently installed SNP treasurer Douglas Chapman MP quit. The man he replaced, Colin Beattie MSP, has now been returned to the role.
The Sunday Times reported claims some of the money might have been spent on refurbishing party headquarter and on legal fees.
Responding to the claim, a spokesman for the SNP said: “These claims are nonsense. As we have said before, all sums raised for independence campaigning will be spent on independence campaigning.
“We will fully cooperate with the police investigation, and will make no further comment.”
While some in the party privately concede the reports are not a good look, the leadership insists its finances are in fine order and has promised all the money raised for the independence campaign will be spent on that purpose.
Every penny we raise to support the campaign for independence will be spent on the campaign for independence.”
– Nicola Sturgeon
Donations collected by the party are all processed through the SNP’s main bank account but bosses say they keep a record of what is collected for a specific purpose so even when cash dwindles, an equivalent sum will still be used for that cause.
Last month, Ms Sturgeon said: “Money hasn’t gone missing. All money goes through the SNP accounts independently and fully audited. We don’t hold separate accounts, we’re under no legal requirement to do that.
“Our accounts are managed on a cash flow basis but every penny we raise to support the campaign for independence will be spent on the campaign for independence.”
In further claims, it was reported the Crown Office wanted to change the wording of a police statement on the police probe so it did not appear as formal as an “investigation”.
Asked to respond to the claim on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on an ongoing police investigation. We have not received a report and have only provided advice.
“As is customary in cases involving politicians, any resulting case reported to us will be handled by the Procurator Fiscal and independent Crown Counsel without the involvement of the Law Officers.”