Peter Murrell released without charge amid ongoing police probe of SNP finances

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Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell has been been released without charge as police continue an investigation into the SNP’s finances.

Mr Murrell, who married the former first minister in 2010, stepped down as the SNP’s chief executive last month following a controversy about misleading information being given to journalists over the party’s membership numbers.

The 58-year-old was arrested on Wednesday morning in connection to a long-running Police Scotland investigation into the spending of about £600,000 which was earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning.

On Wednesday, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 58-year-old man who was arrested as a suspect earlier today in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation.

“The man was questioned by Police Scotland detectives after he was arrested at 7.45am. He was released from custody at 6.57pm.

“Officers also carried out searches today at a number of addresses as part of the investigation.

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

“The matter remains 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.

“As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

SNP finances investigation
Officers from Police Scotland outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party Peter Murrell, in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Sturgeon, who unexpectedly announced her resignation as first minister on February 15, stressed that she had “no prior knowledge of Police Scotland’s action or intentions”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on a live police investigation.

“Nicola Sturgeon had no prior knowledge of Police Scotland’s action or intentions.

“Ms Sturgeon will fully co-operate with Police Scotland if required, however at this time no such request has been made.”

Officers from Police Scotland at the home of Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon
Officers from Police Scotland at the home of Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon (Andrew Milligan/PA)

On Wednesday afternoon, officers were spotted in the back garden, with one clutching two spades, although it is unclear why they had the tools.

First Minister Humza Yousaf, who took over from Ms Sturgeon last week, said the arrest marked a “difficult day” for the party.

He told broadcasters on Wednesday: “My reaction, as you’d imagine, much like anybody involved in the SNP, is that this is a difficulty for the party.

“But, again, I’d just reiterate and emphasise it’s so important for me not to comment on a live police investigation and be seen to prejudice that in any way, shape or form.”

He added: “I think there’ll be concern from the public but, again, there is a live police investigation under way and we will wait to see what comes at the conclusion of that police investigation.”

SNP finances investigation
Officers from Police Scotland leave the headquarters of the Scottish National Party in Edinburgh with boxes (Lesley Martin/PA)

During her Bute House press conference, she was asked if she expected to be interviewed in relation to the investigation into the party’s finances and said she did not.

Amid the SNP leadership contest to pick her successor, Mr Murrell announced he was stepping down from the role he had held for more than 20 years.

It came during a row over the party’s membership numbers which had dropped by about 30,000 in the last year, something the party had previously denied.

In December, it emerged that Mr Murrell had loaned the SNP £100,000 in June 2021, but the party said this was to help with a “cash flow” issue after the election that year.

Ms Sturgeon said at the time: “The resources that he lent the party were resources that belonged to him.”

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