POLICE Scotland has so far spent more than £1.3 million on a probe into the SNP’s finances, according to estimates in a Freedom of Information (FOI) release.

Operation Branchform, as the investigation has been named, has been ongoing since activist Sean Clerkin reported the SNP to the police in March 2021.

The initial complaint focused on how around £600,000 in funds raised to run a second independence referendum campaign was spent, but in July 2023 then-chief constable Iain Livingstone said the investigation had “moved beyond” that.

An FOI request put to Police Scotland and shared with The National has revealed cost estimates for the probe so far, as well as the number of staff engaged in the process.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf addresses police probe into SNP finances in BBC interview

Police said that, as of January 20, 2024, the team engaged in the investigation consists of one detective chief inspector, one detective inspector, three detective sergeants, 10 detective constables, and five support staff assigned to Operation Branchform.

Staffing levels from February and August 2023 show one further detective sergeant was engaged on the case until around November 2023.

Based on staffing levels and the pay brackets for their ranks, Police Scotland said the estimated salary costs are £1,222,301 to January 31, 2024, excluding pension contributions.

The FOI revealed that a further £79,596 had been spent on overtime pay for officers working on the SNP probe, while £929.89 has been accrued in vehicle costs.

The total estimate, which police stressed is only an estimate, is £1,302,826.89.

Sent the FOI release, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: "As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further."

In the FOI publication, officers also said they did not know when Operation Branchform would conclude.

An SNP spokesperson said: “Police Scotland is responsible for its expenditure and answers to the Scottish public but costs will obviously increase when the enquiry has been running as long as this.”

The ongoing probe has seen former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, her husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, and former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie all arrested, questioned, and released without charge.

The National: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon answers questions on Scottish Government issues, during a press conference at St Andrews House, Edinburgh. Picture date: Monday February 6, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Sturgeon. Photo credit should

Sturgeon (above) and Murrell’s home was also searched, as was the SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

Recently reports said that SNP staffers were to be re-interviewed by police as the probe continues.

In January, First Minister Humza Yousaf addressed the issue of the police investigation into SNP finances, saying it “clearly” affected the public perception of the party.

He said the inquiry has been “one of the most difficult times” for the SNP and that he must work hard to rebuild trust.