Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell has been released having been arrested amid an investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.
A forensic tent was erected outside the former first minister’s home in Glasgow and officers entered the SNP’s HQ in Edinburgh as police raided several properties on Wednesday morning as part of the probe.
Detectives arrived at the house at 7.35am when Sturgeon was still inside with the ex-SNP leader leaving shortly after. No advance warning of their arrival was given.
Murrell was questioned for nearly 12 hours before being released without charge “pending further investigation”.
Police Scotland and the Crown Office are investigating how £600,000 of funding raised by the SNP for campaigning has been spent.
Murrell, 58, was taken into custody as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation at 7.45am and was released at 6.57pm.
Police Scotland said it would send a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon 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. Ms Sturgeon will fully cooperate with Police Scotland if required however at this time no such request has been made.“
First Minister Humza Yousaf said Wednesday was a “difficult day” for the SNP but that he would not comment on “a live police investigation”.
“People will have questions, there will be come concerns. Our party membership will have concerns too,” he said.
“What I can commit to as party leader is that we want to be absolutely transparent.”
Police Scotland warned the public that legal proceedings remained active with the Contempt of Court Act 1981 was in effect.
“The public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media,” a Police Scotland spokesperson said.
“As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
The SNP said the party had been “cooperating fully” but would not comment further.
In a statement, the SNP said it had agreed to review the party’s governance and transparency at a meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) on Saturday.
An SNP spokesperson: “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.”
Murrell resigned as the SNP’s chief executive after controversy over the party’s membership numbers in March amid the race to succeed his wife as leader of the party.
It came just a month after Sturgeon announced her resignation as Scotland’s first minister.
In March, Sturgeon told ITV she had not heard if police wanted to interview her or her husband as part of the investigation into the party’s finances.
Alex Salmond, the former Scottish first minister, has said he was “very sad” about what is happening to his former party, the SNP.
“It’s a very live investigation, so I couldn’t really comment on the specifics,” said Salmond, as he was walking into the BBC’s Edinburgh office just 25 metres away from the headquarters of the SNP where police were removing boxes into vans.
“I led the SNP for a long time, so I’m very sad about what’s happening to it, and indeed what it’s become.
“We should remember the cause of independence, and the case for it, has never been stronger and that’s what myself and Alba are concentrating on putting forward.”
Salmond is now leader of the pro-independence Alba party.
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.”
She continued: “We need Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon to urgently state what they knew and when.”
Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron urged both Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf to “cooperate fully” with the police investigation, adding: “While there is an ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances, and given that a suspect has now been arrested, it is right that due process is followed and any potential wrongdoing investigated thoroughly by the police.”
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