SNP crisis

Sturgeon’s husband Murrell charged with embezzlement

Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell
Peter Murrell with Nicola Sturgeon

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband has been charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the SNP.

Peter Murrell was taken to Falkirk police station just after 9am yesterday and was questioned by Police Scotland detectives for nine hours.

He was previously arrested as part of the Operation Branchform on 5 April last year before being released without charge.

The 59-year-old was charged at 6.35pm last night after further questioning by officers investigating the funding and finances of the party. He was released from police custody and returned to his home near Glasgow.

He resigned as the SNP’s chief executive in March last year after 22 years in the job and it was understood last night that he has resigned from the party.

An SNP spokesperson said: “While this development will come as a shock, the police investigation remains ongoing and it would, therefore, be inappropriate to make any comment.”

Speaking at Bute House this morning, SNP leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Theses are serious developments. The allegation of embezzlement from party funds is serious indeed.’

Dame Jackie Baillie, the Scottish Labour deputy leader, described the development as “incredibly concerning”.

She added: “It is essential that Police Scotland is able to proceed with this investigation without interference.”

Craig Hoy, chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “This is an extremely serious development and it’s essential that all SNP staff and politicians, past and present, co-operate fully with Police Scotland.

“This complex investigation has been going on for three years and it’s vital that the SNP are fully open and transparent so that the police can finally conclude their probe into the party’s murky finances.”

Police Scotland launched a formal investigation into the SNP’s finances in July 2021 after receiving complaints about how £600,000 of donations were used. Funds were raised for use in a fresh independence referendum campaign.

When Mr Murrell was arrested last year, police searched the house he shares with Ms Sturgeon near Glasgow and the SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

The house was sealed off with tape and a tent was erected at the front as items were brought from the house.

police outside Sturgeon home
Police outside Peter Murrell’s home last year

Police seized a camper van from outside the Dunfermline home of Mr Murrell’s mother.

On 18 April last year, SNP treasurer and MSP Colin Beattie was arrested and interviewed by police before being released pending further investigation. He later resigned as treasurer.

Ms Sturgeon was arrested on 11 June when she voluntarily arranged with Police Scotland to be questioned as part of the investigation, a spokesperson said at the time.

She was released without charge seven hours later pending further inquiries.

It came just months after Ms Sturgeon had stunned the political community and the public by announcing she was resigning as SNP leader and First Minister.

The next step is for the police to send a report on the case to prosecutors at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Its lawyers will decide whether the case goes to court.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “As this investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.

“The matter is active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.”

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