(LONDON) New Scottish Prime Minister Humza Yousaf on Tuesday defended his party, the Scottish National Party (SNP), after the arrest of a second leader of the organization in the ongoing investigation into its funding.
Police Scotland announced on Tuesday that they had arrested a 71-year-old man in connection with the investigation, who was later identified as SNP Treasurer Colin Beattie.
The arrest comes after the arrest earlier this month of former party chief executive Peter Murrell, the husband of former prime minister Nicola Sturgeon. He was later released without any charges being brought against him at this stage.
Ongoing investigations include the use of donations of 600,000 pounds sterling (C$1,000,000) collected in recent years to organize a new independence referendum, a project that has stalled in the face of London’s rejection. . The media are also raising questions about a loan he allegedly paid to the party.
Asked by reporters on Tuesday whether he could “guarantee that the party is not acting criminally”, Humza Yousaf replied, “I certainly don’t believe that’s the case, no.”
“I have already said that a person is innocent until proven guilty,” he insisted, saying he was “surprised” by the treasurer’s arrest.
“One of my colleagues was arrested. This is a very serious matter,” added Humza Yousaf, who became SNP leader and first minister last month and announced his government’s priorities for Scotland on Tuesday.
This affair is a new blow to the Scottish National Party, already weakened after a difficult campaign to succeed Nicola Sturgeon, who recently left office to everyone’s surprise after eight years in power.