Police continue the search of Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell’s house
A former SNP staffer claims he urged Peter Murrell to “come clean” three years ago on how party finances had been spent before things got “out of hand,” Express.co.uk can exclusively reveal. David Henry, who was one of the original complainers in the alleged SNP financial fraud case, claims he spotted a discrepancy in the party accounts and so reached out to Mr Murrell. The former secretary of the SNP Sighthill and Stenhouse branch was one of the first people to report concerns to Police Scotland three years ago that money donated for a second independence campaign had been used elsewhere.
He alleges he warned Mr Murrell that failure to declare that money had gone missing would lead to “damaging” the party in the future.
The 57-year-old, who says he resigned from the party “over a lack of transparency,” set out a “clear plan” to “fix what was going on before things got out of hand” in an email to Mr Murrell dated November 2, 2020, seen by Express.co.uk.
In it, Mr Henry also tells Mr Murrell he has been contacted by people “all over the country” blasting “failures of the party and what has taken place at the National Executive Committee”.
It came after Mr Henry, who was in the running to be National Secretary at the time, sued the party over new rules which would make it harder for MPs to stand for Holyrood.
In an interview with the “Scottish Prism” podcast at the time, Mr Henry said he decided to go to court after the proposition was blocked from being debated. He lost the lawsuit.
In the email, Mr Henry states: “I do not want to see the party damaged and want to see the current situation turned around.
“I’m aware that others are about to go public about certain issues and this will be explosive and very damaging. However, this can be prevented if things are seen to be put right.
“I fear the drop in party membership will accelerate if the transparency resolution is not allowed to be debated.
“For a democratic party to be seen to be preventing its membership from having any say in its operations is not a good look and will cost us more members.”
Mr Henry goes on to offer an “alternative route that avoids more membership losses, loss of revenue and fixes some of the issues”.
He adds: “I’m aware of the financial position of the party as I am sure you are as well and that it is likely to get worse.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Henry claimed: “I told him that the party will be damaged and members will leave.
“If indeed money had to be spent on things that weren’t for the purpose then they should come clean and tell the membership [what] they spent it on.”
However, he claims his best efforts were ignored and so he defected from the party in 2021 to join Alba.
The former SNP official added: “They were given every opportunity to come clean and report what went wrong [with the finances]. And they misled people.”
Mr Murrell was arrested on Wednesday and released without charge 11 hours later as part of an investigation into the funding and finances of the SNP.
The SNP is currently subject to a police investigation into whether £600,000 earmarked for independence campaigning was diverted elsewhere in 2021.
Yesterday it was revealed that the SNP’s accountants have resigned in what is another knock for the party.
Accountants Johnston Carmichael, which has worked with the party for more than a decade, said the decision was taken after a review of its client portfolio.
An SNP spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Johnston Carmichael will not be providing audit services to the SNP this year.
“The National Treasurer is undertaking a tendering process for alternative provision, and we have advised the Electoral Commission of that position”.
There has been a heavy police presence outside the home Mrs Sturgeon shares with her husband this week, as well as a major police presence at the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh.
Mr Murrell – who had been chief executive since 2000 – stepped down earlier this year for unrelated reasons.
He said he had planned to step down after the SNP leadership contest had concluded but was doing so earlier than planned because his “future has become a distraction from the campaign”.
Mr Henry would go on to lose his attempt to become national secretary.
It is also understood that the transparency motion mentioned in his email was rejected by an elected committee of the party, and not by Mr Murrell.
An SNP spokesperson said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on any live police investigation but the SNP has been cooperating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so.
“The governing body of the SNP, the NEC, agreed to a review of governance and transparency – this is already in progress.”
Mr Murrell has not responded to a request for comment.
Source: Read Full Article