Police probing SNP fraud claims are hunting for phone SIM cards, the MoS can reveal.
It is the latest twist in the probe into £600,000 of possible ‘missing’ SNP funds. SIM cards hold a record of texts and calls made, and police believe they would help them build a picture in relation to the ‘missing’ funds.
Officers have already raided the home of former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and his wife, former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Detectives were also seen carrying boxes from the SNP’s Edinburgh offices.
Last week, ex-SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was arrested, and SNP sources say it is ‘only a matter of time’ before Ms Sturgeon is questioned by police.
A senior party source last night said: ‘The police are looking for sim cards. They could contain vital evidence – especially over any text messages. That is one reason the police are going through everything with a fine-tooth comb.’ The astonishing revelation follows another tumultuous week for the Nationalists, after the party’s treasurer Mr Beattie, 71, was also arrested and questioned amid the probe.
Last week, ex-SNP treasurer Colin Beattie (pictured) was arrested, and SNP sources say it is ‘only a matter of time’ before Ms Sturgeon is questioned by police
Speculation continues to mount as to when Police Scotland will question Nicola Sturgeon (pictured)
First Minister Humza Yousaf was forced to step in as the temporary finance boss of his party, and admitted the SNP was still without auditors, despite its former accountants resigning in September last year.
As rumours of Scotland’s ruling party becoming bankrupt swirl – as, without auditors, they will lose their £1 million ‘short money’ opposition parties receive at Westminster – speculation continues to mount as to when Police Scotland will question Ms Sturgeon.
A number of SNP sources believe the former First Minister will be arrested ‘imminently’.
Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly denied the police investigation into the allegations of ‘missing’ party funds contributed to her shock resignation in February.
Claims she jumped before she was pushed have been rubbished by the former SNP leader and her team – but the accusations have resurfaced following the dramatic arrest of her husband Mr Murrell and Mr Beattie, both of whom were released without charge.
The police probe is focused on how money raised in 2017 and 2019 as part of a ‘referendum appeal’ has been spent.
Concern was first raised when SNP accounts showed there was less than £100,000 in the bank at the end of 2019, despite £600,000 being raised from donations to the referendum appeals, sparking at least 19 complaints.
After the police began their investigation, Mr Murrell – who was the SNP’s chief executive for 24 years – then loaned the party £107,620, which he claimed was to assist with ‘cashflow’.
First Minister Humza Yousaf (pictured) was forced to step in as the temporary finance boss of his party, and admitted the SNP was still without auditors, despite its former accountants resigning in September last year
Serious questions were raised about the loan after the party failed to disclose it until 14 months later. Mr Yousaf last week confirmed the SNP had still not repaid Mr Murrell all of his money, with £60,000 still outstanding.
Ms Sturgeon has continued to distance herself from the police probe, claiming the loan was Mr Murrell’s to make and he was entitled to help the party he supports. Pointedly, she said her husband would do with his own ‘resources’ what he wanted.
Although both Mr Murrell and Mr Beattie were released without charge, police investigations continue.
The latest revelations will ramp up pressure on Mr Yousaf over his handling of the SNP financial crisis – just as he is set to meet Rishi Sunak for the first time since being sworn in as First Minister at the end of last month.
In an apparent bid to improve relations between the UK and Scottish Governments, Mr Yousaf will travel to London for informal talks with the Prime Minister tomorrow. He will then meet the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as well as the German and Ukrainian ambassadors, officials say.
The trip south signals that Mr Yousaf hopes to develop a more cordial working relationship with the Prime Minister despite their opposing views on a number of subjects, not least Scottish separation. But the First Minister is likely to face a frosty welcome from Mr Sunak after pledging within days of his appointment to launch a legal challenge against the UK Government for blocking gender reforms, while also last week blaming Westminster for delaying the Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.
The latest sim card development in the SNP police probe will not go unnoticed by the Tory leader who alluded to the issues facing the Nationalists last week.
Crossing swords with SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said: ‘Mr Speaker, at the moment, him and his party are focused on other matters, but we’re just gonna motor on with the job.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12003557/SNP-police-hunt-phone-chips-Cops-probing-fraud-claims-hunt-sim-cards.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270