Joanna Cherry becomes second MP to quit SNP's ruling body over transparency concerns

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Joanna Cherry -  Jane Barlow/PA
Joanna Cherry - Jane Barlow/PA

Nicola Sturgeon's most prominent SNP critic has become the latest senior party figure to quit its ruling body complaining of internal secrecy.

Joanna Cherry, the Edinburgh South West MP, said she had resigned from the SNP's National Executive Committee (NEC), as she had been prevented "from fulfilling the mandate party members gave me to improve transparency and scrutiny".

Her announcement came shortly after the party's treasurer resigned claiming he was not allowed enough information to do the job.

Ms Cherry, a close ally of Alex Salmond, was sacked from the party's front bench at Westminster, in February.

Douglas Chapman, the Dunfermline and West Fife MP, quit on Saturday night with a broadside attacking the party's lack of financial transparency.

John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, denied claims that police were investigating the whereabouts of £600,000 of party funds raised by activists and campaigners for an independence campaign that it is claimed was spent elsewhere.

But in March three officials resigned in protest from the NEC's finance and audit committee. Sources said they quit after Peter Murrell, the SNP chief executive and Ms Sturgeon's husband, refused their request to see the party's full accounts.

A Scottish independence activist told a court on Friday during a hearing considering an unrelated matter that detectives had visited him in connection with an inquiry into whether the £600,000 had gone missing.

But a Police Scotland spokesman said: "The complaint is still being assessed to determine if an investigation is required."

Ian Murray, Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: "Losing one member of your National Executive is careless. Losing three members of your finance committee, your Treasurer and a member of your National Executive probably indicates a party in crisis.

"The SNP have long been gripped by a kind of centralism and secrecy that would make Lenin blush."

Ms Cherry is a long-standing advocate of a more assertive approach to winning a second independence referendum and an opponent to the SNP’s plans to allow people to legally change gender by self-declaration, without a medical diagnosis.

In the tweet, Ms Cherry said: "I've resigned from the NEC of the SNP.

"A number of factors have prevented me from fulfilling the mandate party members gave me to improve transparency and scrutiny, and to uphold the party's constitution. I won't be making any further comment at this stage."

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