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5 April 2023

SNP’s Peter Murrell arrested: what we know so far

Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – and the party’s former chief executive – is being questioned over the alleged misuse of £600,000 in party donations.

By Zoë Grünewald

Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon’s husband and until last month the SNP‘s chief executive, has been arrested this morning (5 April) in connection with an investigation into his party’s funding and finances.

He was reportedly taken into custody while police carried out searches at Sturgeon’s home outside Glasgow and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh. In a statement, Police Scotland said: “A 58-year-old man has today, Wednesday 5 April 2023, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.

“The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives. Officers are also carrying out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation.

“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”

The SNP said in a statement: “Clearly it would not be appropriate to comment on any live police investigation but the SNP have been cooperating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so.

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“At its meeting on Saturday, the governing body of the SNP, the NEC, agreed to a review of governance and transparency – that will be taken forward in the coming weeks.”

The investigation was launched following complaints about the SNP’s handling of £600,000 in donations ostensibly raised by the party to campaign for and hold a second independence referendum. It is alleged the money was instead used to pay for the party’s day-to-day running costs.

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Murrell’s arrest follows his resignation as the party’s chief executive almost three weeks ago, after he took responsibility for misleading the media about whether the SNP’s membership had fallen by 30,000 people. He had held the role since 1999.

He said he always planned to step down after the leadership contest to replace his wife, the First Minister, had concluded, but had brought his decision forward because his “future has become a distraction from the campaign”. His decision followed the resignation of the SNP’s head of communications, Murray Foote, who said he had been given false information on membership figures with which to inform the media.

Following Sturgeon’s sudden resignation as party leader back in February 2023, her ally Humza Yousaf was narrowly elected party leader at the end of March, defeating the former finance secretary Kate Forbes by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

Forbes and fellow candidate Ash Regan had both expressed concern before the vote about the transparency of the contest and called on an independent auditor to oversee it. The SNP’s national secretary, Lorna Finn, wrote to the candidates to address their concerns about transparency and said she was “satisfied as to the integrity of the ballot”.

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