Sturgeon released without charge after arrest amid SNP finance probe

The former First Minster was taken in for questioning on Sunday as part of the Operation Branchform investigation into party funds.

UPDATE: Nicola Sturgeon ‘shocked and distressed’ by arrest in SNP finance probe

Nicola Sturgeon has been released without charge following her arrest amid a police investigation into SNP finances.

The former First Minister became the third person to be held by officers as a suspect during Operation Branchform on Sunday, but said she “knows beyond doubt [she is] innocent of wrongdoing”.

Police Scotland confirmed the 52-year-old, who stood down as leader of the party earlier this year, was questioned by detectives.

But she has now been released, the force has confirmed.

“A 52-year-old woman who was arrested earlier today, Sunday, June 11 as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation,” a statement read.

“The woman was questioned by Police Scotland detectives after she was arrested at 10.09am. She was released from custody at 5.24pm.

“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“The matter remains 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.”

They added: “As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

A spokesperson for the ex-SNP leader said she was “fully co-operating” with 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 police advised the public to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.

Sturgeon’s arrest is the third in the police investigation into how £600,000 of funding raised by the SNP for campaigning has been spent.

On April 5, her husband and the party’s former chief executive Peter Murrell was arrested as officers carried out searches at a number of properties including the couple’s home in Glasgow and the SNP Headquarters in Edinburgh.

Murrell was released without charged after nearly 12 hours of questioning “pending further investigation”.

On April 18, the SNP’s treasurer Colin Beattie MSP was taken into custody and questioned before he was also released without charge pending further investigation.

In a statement shared on social media, Sturgeon described the day’s events as “deeply distressing,” adding she intended to be back in Parliament after a few days away.

She wrote: “To find myself in the situation I did today when I am certain I have committed no offence is both a shock and deeply distressing.

“I know that this ongoing investigation is difficult for people and I am grateful that so many continue to show faith in me and appreciated that I would never do anything to harm either the SNP or the country.

“Obviously, given the nature of this process, I cannot go into detail.

“However I do wish to say this, and do so in the strongest possible terms; innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled to in law. I know beyond doubt I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.

“To the many people who have sent messages of support over these past difficult weeks – including since today’s news broke – thank you for your kindness.

“Thank you also to my close circle of family and friends who are giving me much-needed strength at this time.

“Finally, while I will take a day or two to process this latest development, I intend to be back in Parliament soon where I will continue to represent my Glasgow Southside constituents to the very best of my ability.”