Peter Murrell: Nicola Sturgeon ‘had no prior knowledge’ of husband’s arrest in SNP finance and funding probe

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Peter Murrell has been released from custody without charge as his wife, Scotland’s former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, issued a statement about his arrest.

Nicola Sturgeon had “no prior knowledge” of Police Scotland’s plans to arrest her husband Peter Murrell, her spokesperson has said.

Murrell, former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was arrested on Wednesday (5 April) as part of an investigation into the party’s funding and finances. He was released without charge in the evening – almost 12 hours after he was first taken into police custody for questioning.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Scotland’s former First Minister and leader of the SNP has since been under pressure to reveal what she knew about her husband’s impending arrest - and particularly whether she had any knowledge of it before her shock resignation in February.

Following a day of mounting questions, her spokesperson released a statement which 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. [She] will fully cooperate with Police Scotland if required; however, at this time no such request has been made.”

Nicola Sturgeon had “no prior knowledge” of Police Scotland’s plans to arrest her husband Peter Murrell, her spokesperson has said. Credit: Getty ImagesNicola Sturgeon had “no prior knowledge” of Police Scotland’s plans to arrest her husband Peter Murrell, her spokesperson has said. Credit: Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon had “no prior knowledge” of Police Scotland’s plans to arrest her husband Peter Murrell, her spokesperson has said. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

Police Scotland has been investigating the SNP’s spending of about £600,000 earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning, amid concerns that the cash may have been used improperly by being spent elsewhere.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Detectives are carrying out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation, such as at SNP headquarters in Edinburgh. Murrell and Sturgeon’s home in Glasgow is also being searched, with a blue police tent set up in their front garden on Wednesday (5 April) while Murrell was in custody.

In the afternoon, officers, one of whom was carrying two spades, were spotted in their back garden - although it is still unclear why. On Thurday (6 April), the house remained cordoned off with police tape.

Officers from Police Scotland outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was “released without charge pending further investigation”, after he was arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into the party’s finances. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023. Credit: PAOfficers from Police Scotland outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was “released without charge pending further investigation”, after he was arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into the party’s finances. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023. Credit: PA
Officers from Police Scotland outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was “released without charge pending further investigation”, after he was arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into the party’s finances. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023. Credit: PA | PA

Yousaf was only chosen to replace Sturgeon last week, raising fresh questions over whether police chiefs faced political pressure to delay their action until the SNP found a new leader and First Minister.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It has also prompted supporters of Forbes to argue that members would have voted differently in the election if they had known Murrell’s arrest was imminent.

Yousaf has so far only spoken out to say he does not believe Sturgeon’s resignation was as a result of the investigation. He told PA: “I believe her very much when she says how exhausted she was.

“I think anybody who watched her over the course of the pandemic during those daily briefings, day after day, I think anybody could understand how exhausting that is. So, no, I don’t think [Peter Murrell’s arrest] is the reason why Nicola Sturgeon stood down.”

Meanwhile, former leader of the SNP Alex Salmond said he was “very sad” about what is happening to the SNP - and “indeed what it has become.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Newly-elected leader of the SNP and First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he does not believe Sturgeon’s resignation was as a result of the investigation. Credit: Getty ImagesNewly-elected leader of the SNP and First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he does not believe Sturgeon’s resignation was as a result of the investigation. Credit: Getty Images
Newly-elected leader of the SNP and First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he does not believe Sturgeon’s resignation was as a result of the investigation. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

Alex Neil, who previouly served in the Scottish Government, has argued it is “hard to believe” that Murrell’s arrest was not a factor in Sturgeon’s resignation as First Minister. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well, Nicola did resign very suddenly. Everybody and their granny knew about this investigation.

“There were very strong rumours for the last couple of months that some kind of arrest was possibly imminent, so it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t a factor in Nicola’s consideration. Given that a large number of people had been interviewed, including staff at SNP headquarters, it’s hard to believe Nicola wasn’t aware.”

Sturgeon has pulled out of a climate change event she was due to attend on Thursday (6 April), while her husband remains involved in the investigation.

Officers from Police Scotland outside the headquarters of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Edinburgh following the arrest of former chief executive Peter Murrell. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023. Credit: PAOfficers from Police Scotland outside the headquarters of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Edinburgh following the arrest of former chief executive Peter Murrell. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023. Credit: PA
Officers from Police Scotland outside the headquarters of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Edinburgh following the arrest of former chief executive Peter Murrell. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023. Credit: PA | PA

When Murrell was released late on Wednesday (5 April), Police Scotland said in a statement: “A 58-year-old man who was arrested as a suspect earlier today, Wednesday, 5 April 2023, in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“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.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.