Ash Regan: ex-SNP leadership candidate suggests suspension for top party figures involved in police probe
Ash Regan, who lost to out Humza Yousaf for the role of party leader and First Minister, has called on her party to take action during the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances
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The former leadership candidate, who lost out on the top job to Humza Yousaf last month, made comments to BBC’s World At One which hinted at the fact that she backed the suspension of those involved with the investigation until the facts have been laid out by police. Her comments come after Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, and Colin Beattie were arrested and later released without charge as police continue their investigations into claims that £600,000 of funds set aside for a second independence referendum had been mismanaged by the party.
While not directly naming Sturgeon, Murrell or Beattie by name, Regan told the programme: “I think if it is found that people have been involved in something of this nature, certainly until that can be cleared up whether that’s one way or the other, that they should be suspended from the party.” However, when questioned again whether she supported the suspension of those at “the top layer of the party who’ve only just recently departed”, Regan appeared to backtrack on her comments.
The MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, who quit as community safety minister under Sturgeon over opposing views on gender reforms, said: “I said that … someone would need to go in and be briefed on what exactly is happening and what I’m saying is if there are instances where people are involved in something significant of this nature then they should be suspended.”
Calls for suspensions were spearheaded by opposition parties in the wake of the separate arrests of Murrell and Beattie. Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “The police investigation into the SNP’s murky finances is consuming the party – and Humza Yousaf has to get a grip of the situation, rather than stand by wringing his hands. He must show some leadership and suspend Colin Beattie – along with Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon.
“That is the precedent the party set when politicians such as Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry were under investigation – and it must be followed here, for the benefit of everyone. Colin Beattie should also stand down from membership of the Public Audit Committee until the conclusion of the investigation.
“This extremely serious matter is escalating by the day and everyone in the SNP has a duty to be as transparent as possible about what they knew and when.”
She has also called on Humza Yousaf to take “decisive action” amid a time of turmoil for the party, and batted away suggestions that she would support a rerun of the leadership election, which she placed third in last month. She said: “Some people are calling for that to be done, and that's not something that I'm saying myself, no.”
Regan also hinted towards the fact that senior SNP members may have been aware of “rumours” relating to the police probe and alleged financial wrongdoings. It comes after the First Minister said last week that he was only made aware that the party has had no auditors for six months or the ownership of a £100,000 motorhome.
She said: “I said some weeks ago that I thought that considering some of the rumours that were going around about what had been going on that if I became the leader, I would go in, I would open the books. If wrongdoing had taken place then I would be ending careers.”