Nicola Sturgeon: Humza Yousaf says he won’t suspend predecessor from SNP after her arrest in finance probe

After being released from custody pending further investigation, the former SNP leader spoke of her “shock” and “distress”
Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PAFormer first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he won’t suspend his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP - after she was arrested as part of a police inquiry into the party’s finances.

She was questioned for around seven hours on Sunday (11 June) before she was released pending further investigation.

What are police investigating?

The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – began in 2021. It was opened after allegations emerged that £600,000 raised for campaigning towards Scottish independence was diverted elsewhere.

Sturgeon is the latest senior SNP figure to be arrested and questioned as part of the probe. In April, her husband, Peter Murrell, was also taken into custody - as was former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie. Both were released without charge pending further inquiries.

A police van  outside Nicola Sturgeon's home in Uddingtson, Glasgow, after she was arrested in the police investigation into the SNP's finances (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)A police van  outside Nicola Sturgeon's home in Uddingtson, Glasgow, after she was arrested in the police investigation into the SNP's finances (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
A police van outside Nicola Sturgeon's home in Uddingtson, Glasgow, after she was arrested in the police investigation into the SNP's finances (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

As well as the arrests, searches were carried out at a number of properties, including the home Mr Murrell shares with Sturgeon on the outskirts of Glasgow – where a police tent was erected in the garden – and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

What has Sturgeon said?

After being released from custody, the former SNP leader tweeted her “shock” and “distress” at the situation.

She said: “To find myself in the situation I did today when I am certain I have committed no offence is both a shock and deeply distressing”.

“I know that this ongoing investigation is difficult for people, and I am grateful that so many continue to show faith in me and appreciate that I would never do anything to harm either the SNP or the country”.

She added: "Obviously, given the nature of this process, I cannot go into detail. However, I do wish to say this, and to do so in the strongest possible terms. Innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled to in law. I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing”.

Humza Yousaf said he wouldn’t suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP because she’d been released from police custody without charge Humza Yousaf said he wouldn’t suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP because she’d been released from police custody without charge
Humza Yousaf said he wouldn’t suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP because she’d been released from police custody without charge

Her statement concluded: “To the many people who have sent messages of support over these past difficult weeks – including since today’s news broke – thank you for your kindness. Thank you also to my close circle of family and friends who are giving me much-needed strength at this time”.

“Finally, while I will take a day or two to process this latest development, I intend to be back in Parliament soon where I will continue to represent my Glasgow Southside constituents to the very best of my ability”.

Will she be suspended from the SNP?

Humza Yousaf was facing calls from opposition parties - and some of his own MSPs - to suspend Sturgeon until the police investigation had concluded.

SNP MP Angus McNeil urged Yousaf to do so - saying “this soap opera has gone far enough” while former party leadership candidate Ash Regan told BBC Radio Scotland that Sturgeon should consider resigning her SNP membership herself, saying the ongoing investigation and intense media scrutiny could be a “distraction”.

Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives Craig Hoy urged Yousaf to “show some leadership and suspend his predecessor”, and Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was “no doubt” in her mind that should happen.

What has Yousaf said?

Speaking to the BBC on Monday lunchtime (12 June), Yousaf said “I will do what I believe is right to the values of natural justice”.

“Nicola Sturgeon, like Colin Beattie, like Peter Murrell, was released without charge. Therefore, I see no reason for their membership to be suspended”.

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