1 of 3 | Police Scotland said on Tuesday they arrested the treasurer of the Scottish National Party Colin Beattie in its ongoing investigation into party finances. Photo courtesy Scottish Parliament
April 18 (UPI) -- Police Scotland on Tuesday arrested Scotland National Party Treasurer Colin Beattie in its ongoing investigation into the party finances that has already snared the husband of former party leader Nicola Sturgeon.
A statement from Police Scotland said a 71-year-old man, not identified by name, was being questioned by detectives.
"The matter is active and for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media," Police Scotland said.
Beattie, 71, on his second round as the party's treasurer, had served for 16 years before losing an internal election to Douglas Chapman, only to return in 2021 when Chapman resigned after accusing the party of not giving him more access to the party's financial information.
Police Scotland launched an investigation in 2021 after concerns were flagged over the handling of nearly $750,000 in donations to the party to hold a second referendum for independence.
Earlier this month, Peter Murrell, the husband of Sturgeon, was arrested in connection with the investigation and the couple's home was raided. He was released the following day without charges.
Murrell controlled the internal operation of the party for nearly 24 years until leaving his position in the latest leadership shakeup. Sturgeon in March officially resigned from her position as first minister and party leader, with Humza Yousaf taking her place.
Earlier this month, the SNP announced that its longtime accounting firm Johnston Carmichael would "not be providing audit services" to the party this year. The decision reportedly came after a review of its "client portfolio and existing resources and commitments" but before Murrell's arrest.
Craig Hoy, chair of the Scottish Conservative Party called on Beattie to step down from the public audit committee until the investigation is completed. He also caled on Yousaf to suspend Beattie, Murrell and Sturgeon saying the probe was "consuming" the SNP.
"Humza Yousaf has to get a grip of the situation rather than stand by wringing his hands," said Hoy. "This extremely serious matter is escalating by the day and everyone in the SNP has a duty to be transparent as possible about what they knew and when."