Peter Murrell: Nicola Sturgeon’s husband released without charge after arrest over with SNP finances

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Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell recently resigned as SNP chief executive.

The husband of Nicola Sturgeon has been released without charge pending further investigation after police arrested him amid a probe into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Peter Murrell, 58, who is married to Scotland’s former First Minister, was taken into police custody early on Wednesday (5 April). Throughout the day, officers also carried out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation, including the SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

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In a statement, Police Scotland said: “A 58-year-old man who was arrested as a suspect earlier today, Wednesday April 5 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.

“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."

A spokesperson for the SNP said: “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. 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.”

Peter Murrell, the husband of Nicola Sturgeon, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party. Credit: Getty ImagesPeter Murrell, the husband of Nicola Sturgeon, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party. Credit: Getty Images
Peter Murrell, the husband of Nicola Sturgeon, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

The news comes just weeks after Murrell resigned as chief executive of the SNP. He left his post over a scandal around membership numbers, saying that “responsibility” for the party’s “responses to media queries” lies with him.

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“While there was no intent to mislead,” he continued in a statement, “I accept that this has been the outcome. I have therefore decided to confirm my intention to step down as chief executive with immediate effect.”

He added that he had planned to confirm his resignation after the SNP leadership contest had finished, given that, a month prior on 15 February, Sturgeon had announced her intention to step down as First Minister. However, Murrell did so earlier as he said he felt his future had “become a distraction from the campaign”.

Sturgeon said it was the “right” decision for her husband to resign, telling Sky News that Murrell had “obviously taken responsibility for the recent issue with membership”.

Officers from Police Scotland at the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the party. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023. Credit: PAOfficers from Police Scotland at the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the party. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023. Credit: PA
Officers from Police Scotland at the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the party. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023. Credit: PA | PA

Speaking a few hours after Murrell’s arrest, Scotland’s newly-elected First Minister Humza Yousaf said he does not believe Sturgeon’s resignation was due to the investigation into the SNP’s finances and funding. He told PA Media: “I believe her very much when she says how exhausted she was.

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“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.”

In its full statement upon Murrell’s arrest, 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 matter is 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.”

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File photo dated 08/12/20 of Peter Murrell, the former Chief Executive of the Scottish National Party, who is understood to have been arrested by Police Scotland over a investigation into the party’s finances. Credit: PAFile photo dated 08/12/20 of Peter Murrell, the former Chief Executive of the Scottish National Party, who is understood to have been arrested by Police Scotland over a investigation into the party’s finances. Credit: PA
File photo dated 08/12/20 of Peter Murrell, the former Chief Executive of the Scottish National Party, who is understood to have been arrested by Police Scotland over a investigation into the party’s finances. Credit: PA | PA

Sturgeon and Murrell married in July 2010, in a service at Òran Mór Glasgow. The couple first met in 1988, and began dating in 2003.

Murrell became the SNP’s chief executive in 2000, while Sturgeon became leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland in 2014.

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