Nicola Sturgeon Peter Murrell Scotland donates Fighting Party Nicola Sturgeon Peter Murrell Scotland

Police probe into allegations of £600,000 SNP donations fraud codenamed Operation Branchform

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A police probe into allegations of a £600,000 SNP donations fraud has been codenamed Operation Branchform by detectives. The investigation was launched last year after it was claimed money had been illegally diverted from a “ring-fenced” fund to fight an independence referendum.

The row over the “missing” cash sparked the resignation of several senior nationalists from the party’s ruling body. It was claimed SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, who is married to Nicola Sturgeon, had refused them permission to see the party’s accounts.

The party has not said if either have been interviewed by police, but criminal ­complaints from at least 19 people have now been received.Sean Clerkin, the ­campaigner who made the first formal ­complaint, said: “It seems clear to me that this was money that people were told would be used to fight a referendum campaign and it was spent on other things.“The police need to step up this investigation.

It seems like a relatively straightforward case to decide whether any criminal charges are required.“What they have told me is that the investigation is very much active and that it has been given the code name Branchform.“I have no idea whether that is a reference to the form that independence activists filled in to donate money, but they were clear that is what it has been called.”Senior officers at Police Scotland are reported to believe the complaints have some substance and that ­criminality may have occurred.However Crown Office ­officials are rumoured to have argued that all spending by the party ultimately supports the aim of independence, and that a crime is unlikely to have occurred.Financial documents were handed to police by the SNP shortly before Christmas after officers executed a

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