Loans by Peter Murrell to SNP 'should have been declared earlier'

The Electoral Commission said it would only consider the matter after the conclusion of the ongoing police investigation.

Loans by Peter Murrell to SNP should have been declared earlier, watchdog says Getty Images

Two loans made by former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell to his party in 2018 should have been declared earlier, the Electoral Commission has said.

However the elections watchdog said it can only consider the matter after the conclusion of the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances.

In 2018, Murrell, who is former Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, made two loans of £7,500 to the party, which have recently been published on the commission’s website.

The first of these started on March 22 and the second started on April 25.

They were both repaid in full shortly after starting, with the second one being completely repaid within two days.

The SNP has said these were “short-term loans” but the party has not elaborated further on what they were for.

Loans to a party which aggregate to more than £7,500 in the calendar year are required to be declared.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said: “In the third quarter of 2023, the Scottish National Party reported to us two loans that Peter Murrell entered into in 2018, which should have been reported in Q2 of 2018.

“We have consulted with Police Scotland as to whether publishing this information would affect the ongoing investigation into the party’s finances.

“Police Scotland have confirmed that publishing it will not have any adverse impact on their investigation, which is why it has been added to our database.

“We may consider the late reporting in line with our enforcement policy if appropriate once the police investigation has concluded.”

The Scottish Daily Express, which first reported the loans, said possible enforcement action could include a fine set by the commission.

They are separate from a loan of more than £100,000 which Murrell gave to the party in June 2021.

In 2023, some of this money was still outstanding.

An SNP spokeswoman said: “Two short-term loans of £7,500 were made in March and April 2018, and each was repaid after a few days.

“While individual loans of £7,500 do not require reporting, we accept that as both loans were in the same calendar year, they should have been reported and that is what we did.”

In April 2023, Murrell was arrested as police carried out a search of his and Sturgeon’s home in the police investigation into the SNP’s finances, before being released without charge pending further investigation.

Later, former party treasurer Colin Beattie and the former first minister were arrested in relation to the probe, with both also being released without charge pending further investigation.

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