Nicola Sturgeon breaks silence after husband Peter Murrell charged over SNP finances

Nicola Sturgeon spoke to reporters outside her home just hours after her husband was charged by Police Scotland

Alex Ross
Friday 19 April 2024 18:14 BST
Nicola Sturgeon breaks silence after husband Peter Murrell charged with embezzlement

Former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has broken her silence hours after her husband was charged in connection with embezzlement of SNP funds.

Police Scotland confirmed on Thursday evening that Peter Murrell, the party’s former chief executive for 22 years, had been arrested and charged over the investigation.

The 59-year-old was previously arrested as a suspect last year, before being released without charge. On Thursday, he resigned his membership of the SNP, which has been urged to cooperate with the police investigation.

Mr Murrell’s charge is part of a probe, known as Operation Branchform, into the spending of more than £600,000 in donations for campaigning for Scottish independence.

On Friday, Ms Sturgeon spoke to reporters outside her home in Uddingston near Glasgow. Asked about the situation as she got into her car, she said: “It is incredibly difficult, but that is not the main issue here.

“I can’t say any more, I’m not going to say any more.”

Nicola Sturgeon speaks to reporters outside her home near Glasgow after her husband was charged by police (Getty Images)

She also asked reporters to leave her neighbours in peace. She said: “I’m now going to go out for a walk if that’s alright with you? I know you’ve got jobs to do but I ask you, maybe, to give me neighbours some peace. There’s nothing going to be happening here.”

After being charged by police, Mr Murrell returned home on Thursday night.

Ms Sturgeon was arrested two months after her husband was first arrested in April last year, while former party treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested last year. Both were released without charge, pending further investigation.

Ms Sturgeon stood down as Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader last February, saying that the pressures of the job had become “very difficult”.

Peter Murrell, pictured with his wife Nicola Sturgeon, has been charged in an investigation into the SNP’s finances (PA)

Mr Murrell stepped down as SNP chief executive during last year’s leadership campaign, won by Humza Yousaf.

On Thursday evening, Police Scotland said in a statement: “A 59-year-old man has today been charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party.

“The man, who was arrested at 9.13am today and had previously been arrested as a suspect on 5 April 2023, was charged at 6.35pm after further questioning by Police Scotland detectives investigating the funding and finances of the party.

“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in due course. The man is no longer in police custody.

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

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy urged the SNP to “fully-cooperate” as the investigation continues.

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.”

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