Police are investigating allegations that a north-east MSP failed to properly declare his campaign expenditure during the Scottish election.
Embattled Aberdeenshire West member Alexander Burnett has been accused of not declaring office costs during his victorious election campaign in May.
Earlier this week the allegations were referred to the Electoral Commission by the SNP, but it has since been confirmed Police Scotland are the appropriate body to conduct an investigation.
If judged to have broken the rules, the Tory politician could face a number of “serious” penalties.
But last night the Scottish Conservatives ridiculed the SNP, saying they were “engaged in a nothing more than a politically-motivated fishing expedition” after the Electoral Commission “told (them) they’d gone to the wrong place”.
According to the complaint, Mr Burnett is alleged not to have declared the use of Banchory Business Centre on his official election return.
In the run-up to his victory over the SNP, he was £1,303 under the £14,062 campaign spending limit set by the Electoral Commission.
The watchdog’s rules state the value of any office space used in election campaigns must be declared, but Mr Burnett allegedly failed to do so for the Banchory office.
Mr Burnett became the first Tory politician to hold the Aberdeenshire West seat, ousting the SNP’s Dennis Robertson by 13,400 votes to 12,500.
A Scottish Conservative party spokesman said: “All expenses are accounted for and submitted in line with Electoral Commission guidelines.
“Clearly, the SNP are still smarting over their defeat in Aberdeenshire West in May.
“While Alexander Burnett is working hard representing the interests of his constituents, it seems the SNP are more concerned with political mud-slinging than fixing the mounting problems facing the government.
“The SNP tried the Electoral Commission first, were told they’d gone to the wrong place, and are now trying the police.
“It’s clear the Nationalists are engaged in a nothing more than a politically motivated fishing expedition.”
Police Scotland confirmed they have received the complaint, which they said is “under consideration”.
A spokesman for the SNP said: “The fact that these allegations have now been reported to Police Scotland, in line with the advice of the Electoral Commission, underlines the seriousness of this matter for Alexander Burnett and Ruth Davidson.
“As such, it is only right that the police are now given the opportunity to fully investigate any potential breach of election rules.”