SNP investigated over claim funds misused to support general election candidates

<span>The complaint is being investigated by Holyrood authorities.</span><span>Photograph: David Ridley/Alamy</span>
The complaint is being investigated by Holyrood authorities.Photograph: David Ridley/Alamy

The SNP is being investigated by Holyrood authorities over potential misuse of MSPs’ expenses to fund campaigning for the general election.

In an anonymous complaint sent to the Scottish parliament’s presiding officer, Alison Johnstone, and reported widely this morning, an individual claims that stamps paid for on expenses were passed to Westminster election candidates to use for posting leaflets to voters.

The complaint reportedly includes a screenshot of a WhatsApp group of MSP staff, where they discuss whether stamps can be traced back to the person who bought them.

Rules governing MSPs’ expenses state that they must not be used for “party political purposes”.

A spokesperson for the SNP Holyrood group said the rules were “crystal clear”.

“These exchanges, whilst obviously lighthearted, are being investigated as is appropriate and we would expect the offices of MSPs of all parties to cooperate with the parliamentary corporate body.”

A Scottish parliament spokesperson said: “We take the use of publicly funded resources very seriously. Officials are investigating the matter to establish whether there has been any misuse of parliamentary resources.”

Related: The SNP manifesto is laser-focused on independence. But can it beat Labour to keep the dream alive? | Lesley Riddoch

The investigation comes as the SNP struggles to raise funds, with falling membership hitting party income and larger donations ebbing away amid the police investigation into alleged embezzlement of party funds.

The Electoral Commission revealed last week that the party’s general election campaign had been boosted by a £128,000 bequest, but SNP spending has been minimal compared with other parties.

Labour, for example, has spent £2.2m on social media advertisements in the UK since 22 May and the Tories £820,000, according to the monitoring group Who Targets Me, while the SNP has spent £4,400.

During a BBC Question Time special on Wednesday evening, where party leaders were interrogated by audience members, the SNP leader and first minister, John Swinney, said he accepted his party had to “rebuild the trust of people in Scotland”.