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Website at centre of SNP fraud probe providing online gambling tips

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A WEBSITE at the centre of the SNP fraud probe now provides online gambling tips, we can reveal.

The ref.scot page was used to help raise almost £600,000 that was meant to be set aside to fund a second independence referendum campaign.

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Cops arrested Mr Murrell after raiding his and Ms Sturgeon’s Glasgow home two weeks agoCredit: Reuters
The page was used to help raise almost £600,000 that was meant to be set aside to fund a second independence referendum campaign

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The page was used to help raise almost £600,000 that was meant to be set aside to fund a second independence referendum campaign
Instead of political content, the ref.scot domain now provides advice for online users to gamble from home.

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Instead of political content, the ref.scot domain now provides advice for online users to gamble from home.

But instead of political content, the domain now provides advice for online users to gamble from home.

And opponents lined up to poke fun at the Nats over the role switch as cops continue to investigate the crisis-hit party’s finances.

Scots Lib Dems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton joked: “Once upon a time this website asked punters to throw their money away on a shot in the dark — now it’s a gambling website.”

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “There’s a real sense of irony given pro-independence supporters asked Scots to take the biggest gamble possible in 2014 by breaking up a 300-year-old Union.”

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And a Labour spokesman added: “This web page has always been a gamble. The only difference now is the new one has better odds.”

The site previously hosted info on a potential IndyRef2 plus advice for campaigners and videos of then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

But now, along with tips, it hosts links to “top online gambling sites” as well as facts about online casinos, poker, slots, roulette and craps — a dice game.

Web archives show the site was previously promoted by then SNP chief exec Peter Murrell on behalf of the party. The address of their Edinburgh HQ was listed.

The last indy content on the page was posted on March 31 last year and gambling info began to appear from March 11 this year. The website appears to be registered in Cyprus.

Mr Murrell set up the Ref.scot fundraiser in March 2017 with a £1million target after his wife, Ms Sturgeon, revealed plans for a second vote on a UK split.

The site said at the time: “The success of our campaign will rely on the hard work and goodwill of tens of thousands of ordinary people.”

After it raised £482,000 in three months the SNP vowed the “earmarked” cash would “only be used for the specific purpose of a referendum campaign”. And in 2020, then Nats treasurer Colin Beattie revealed the appeal fund had a balance of £593,501.

But cops started a probe after receiving a claim the money had been spent.

They arrested Mr Murrell after raiding his and Ms Sturgeon’s Glasgow home two weeks ago before Mr Beattie was also detained on Tuesday.

Both were quizzed then released without charge.

An SNP spokesman said they had no link to the gambling content.

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On the defunct fundraiser, he added: “That is an old website. It was superseded by www.yes.scot in 2019.”

oliver.norton@news.co.uk

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