Former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been placed in police custody today, in an investigation into the Scottish National Party’s finances.
Police Scotland’s inquest has been titled “Operation Branchform”, an investigation into claims that the SNP misspent £600,000 in party donations intended to fund an independence campaign.
Sturgeon is now the third major member of the SNP to be arrested after her husband Peter Murrell was arrested at their shared home in April. Murrell spent 12 hours in police custody before being released, uncharged. Ex-SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested in April, and was released “pending further investigation”.
She announced her intention to resign as First Minister in February, stating that she knew “in her head and her heart” that it was time to leave office. Humza Yousaf was elected to replace her at the end of March.
The chairman of the Scottish Conservatives urged Yousaf to suspend Sturgeon, stating:
Humza Yousaf must now show some leadership and suspend his predecessor from the SNP. The SNP set that precedent when politicians such as Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry were under investigation and must do so again here. This extremely serious matter is continuing to escalate and the result is that the SNP are totally distracted at the worst possible time. This is the time they should be focused on the real priorities facing the people of Scotland, such as the cost-of-living crisis, fixing our NHS and strengthening our economy.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Scotland said “This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.”