Police probe

Yousaf resists calls to suspend Sturgeon from party

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf: no reason for suspension (pic: Terry Murden)

Humza Yousaf has rejected calls to withdraw the party whip from his predecessor who was arrested yesterday as part of a police investigation into fraud.

The First Minister said he saw “no reason” to suspend a party member who has been released without charge.

“I’ll not suspend Nicola’s membership. I’ll treat her in the same way I’ve treated, for example, Colin Beattie [former party treasurer who was also arrested and released].

“Those that have been released without charge I see no reason to suspend their membership,” added Mr Yousaf.

“There’s no pressure on her to do so from the party or from me as leader of the SNP.”

He added: “She has been released without charge and I think it is so important that presumption of innocence is upheld.”

SNP MSPs Ash Regan, a former leadership contender, and Michelle Thomson say Ms Sturgeon should resign the party whip.

Ms Thompson, who was suspended despite never being under police investigation, said the values of the former SNP leader and First Minister had to be consistent.

In 2015, while she was an MP, Ms Thompson was sidelined after allegations emerged about her property dealings.

Michelle Thomson
Michelle Thomson: need for consistency (pic: Terry Murden)

She was never under police investigation or arrested, but she withdrew from the party whip and was suspended.

Ms Sturgeon was arrested yesterday as part of the ongoing probe into the party’s finances and in particular what happened to £600,000 in party donations.

She was later released without charge but Tory MSP Craig Hoy called for First Minister Humza Yousaf to suspend her membership of the SNP.

Ms Thomson issued a statement in which she said: “I am on record as being a strong believer in natural justice: the presumption of innocence if, and until guilt can be proven in court of law. I stand by that.

“However, the processes set by the SNP under her leadership were clear. Some eight years ago when an MP, I was required to resign the SNP whip although I was never personally under investigation and was certainly not arrested.

“After careful consideration, I feel that the right thing for the former First Minister to do is resign the SNP Whip. This is not because she doesn’t deserve to be treated as innocent until proven guilty – she does, but because her values should be consistent.”

After Mr Yousaf’s refusal to do suspend Ms Sturgeon, Mr Hoy said: “This is the action of a weak leader unable to stand up to the predecessor to whom he owes his job.

“Humza Yousaf’s claim that he has ‘no reason’ to suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP is fooling no one. He knows, as everyone else does, that there’s a clear precedent in his party for MPs and MSPs under investigation to be suspended until the conclusion of their case.

“And, in this instance, the police probe into the SNP’s murky finances is very much ongoing.

“Several senior SNP figures have already said it’s wrong for Nicola Sturgeon to receive favourable treatment by the party.

“But the reason Humza Yousaf will not follow the precedent – which was set by his predecessor when she was party leader – is because he’s hopelessly compromised by the fact that he only won the leadership election thanks to the backing of Nicola Sturgeon and her inner circle.”

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