Sturgeon 'shocked and distressed' by arrest amid SNP finance probe

The former First Minister maintained her innocence after being detained for questioning by Police Scotland amid the investigation into party finances.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she “knows beyond doubt she is innocent” after being released by Police Scotland following her arrest amid an investigation into the party’s finances.

The former First Minister said Sunday had been a “deeply distressing day” having been detained by officers as part of Operation Branchform.

The ex-SNP leader, 52, reiterated her belief she had “committed no offence” and vowed to return to parliament in the coming days after questioning by detectives investigating allegations of fraud within the party.

In a statement posted on social media, she thanked supporters for their well-wishes and said she intended to take “a day or two” to “process the latest development”.

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.”

Officers said she had been released without charge on Sunday evening “pending further 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.

Opposition politicians and an MP from Sturgeon’s own benches called for her to be suspended from the party.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, of the SNP, tweeted: “This soap opera has gone far enough, Nicola Sturgeon suspended others from the SNP for an awful lot less.

“Time for political distance until the investigation ends either way.”

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy said: “Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures – including Humza Yousaf – must co-operate fully with this police investigation and commit to full transparency surrounding it.

“The SNP continue to be engulfed in murkiness and chaos. Humza Yousaf must now show some leadership and suspend his predecessor from the SNP.”

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