The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) long-time treasurer, Colin Beattie, is now at the centre of a police investigation into the party’s finances. Mr Beattie returned to the role he held for 16 years after his successor, Douglas Chapman, resigned, claiming he had not been given enough information to carry out the job. The 71-year-old Mr Beattie has been serving as the party’s national treasurer since 2021.
Mr Beattie’s career began in international finance, spending 23 years in the Middle and Far East, followed by 11 years in London before settling in Dalkeith, Midlothian, in 2001 with his wife, Lisa. He was elected as a councillor in Midlothian in 2007 and led the SNP group at the local authority. He moved to Holyrood in 2011, becoming an MSP for the newly-formed Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency.
Despite the SNP being in power throughout his tenure as an MSP, Mr Beattie has never achieved ministerial office. His highest office to date has been the national treasurer post, a role he was elected to in a vote by party members in 2004. In the party’s 2020 internal elections, he lost out to Douglas Chapman but returned to the role after Mr Chapman’s resignation.
In July 2021, Police Scotland launched an investigation into the use of around £600,000 of donations received by the party as part of a fundraising effort to finance an independence referendum campaign. In August 2021, Mr Beattie sought to reassure members in a statement released alongside the party’s accounts, saying that the money was earmarked for the purpose of promoting a referendum on independence and campaigns intended to secure independence.
However, scrutiny on the SNP’s finances increased in the years to come, resulting in the arrest of former chief executive Peter Murrell, who is also Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, this month. He was released without charge “pending further investigation” after more than 11 hours of questioning. Mr Beattie was subsequently arrested on Tuesday in connection with the probe into the party’s finances.
The investigation has brought the SNP’s financial management into the spotlight. The party’s opponents have accused it of being secretive about its finances, with some calling for greater transparency. The SNP has denied any wrongdoing and said it is cooperating fully with the police investigation.
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