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28 December 2005

Financial Chaos Revealed At Scottish Socialists HQ - Auditors Report £17,000 Missing

In a blatant attempt to conceal their financial difficulties Scottish Socialists finally revealed their long-overdue 2004 party accounts over the Christmas holidays. Nationalist MSP Stewart Stevenson, who had previously taunted Tommy Sheridan, SSP party leader for all but a few weeks of 2004, about their failure to meet the Electoral Commission deadline of July 2005, commented:

“We can now see why the Trots have been so reluctant to publish their accounts. Chartered Accountants Sinclair Wood & Co, who were employed to audit the SSP accounts, are commenting that 'we have not obtained all the information and explanations that we considered necessary'.

“I note that the Socialists have not been shy in accepting public money - £48,200 in 'Short Money' in 2004 – but have utterly failed to live up to the standard Tommy set in the Parliamentary debate on 14th December that 'we should be absolutely accountable for how public money is spent'. [Note 1]

“It is time to ask whether 'Short Money' should be provided by Parliament to political parties such as the SSP who cannot properly account for how they spend money.”

The auditor's report also highlights that £16,966 has gone missing from the SSP's coffers. Party auditors Sinclair Wood & Co write in their report:

“evidence available to us was limited as a result of being unable to contact a former party official, no satisfactory explanations in that no invoices or receipts were available in respect of £16,966 paid to him during the Year Ended 31 December 2004. In addition we have not received the necessary returns from certain Regional Party Organisations.” [Note 2]

Stewart Stevenson MSP commented:

“I cannot know whether this is incompetence or fraud. Either way no further money should be provided to the SSP until a forensic audit has been completed by the Electoral Commission, the missing money recovered by civil court action or until police enquiries are complete.”

NOTES:

[Note 1]
Scottish Parliament Official Report, 14 December 2005, Col 21710
Stewart Stevenson: ... ... ... It would be useful at this stage if he were to make clear that the issue at the core of his argument is that we should be accountable for how public money is spent on each and every occasion when it is provided.
Tommy Sheridan: We should be absolutely accountable at every moment for how public money is spent.

[Note 2]
SSP Accounts for Year Ended 31 December 2004, annotated as Page 6. See also complete accounts at: www.electoralcommission.org.uk
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