Police submit Peter Murrell SNP embezzlement charge to prosecutors

Nicola Sturgeon's husband was charged in connection with embezzlement of SNP funds five weeks ago.

Police Scotland submits Peter Murrell embezzlement charge report to prosecutors Getty Images

Police Scotland has submitted its report to prosecutors in relation to charges against Nicola Sturgeon’s husband in connection with embezzlement of SNP funds.

The force’s chief constable told STV News the report was due soon after Peter Murrell was charged five weeks ago.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scotland’s public prosecution service, will decide if there is enough evidence to prosecute Murrell who was chief executive of the SNP for 22 years.

Prosecutors will also determine whether going ahead with a case if in the public interest or not.

The COPFS said connected investigations of former first minister Sturgeon and former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie remain ongoing.

Murrell was arrested and taken to Falkirk Police Station on April 18.

He was questioned for hours before becoming the first and only person to be charged in Police Scotland’s Operation Branchform.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland has today (Thursday, May 23, 2024) submitted a standard prosecution report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in relation to a 59-year-old man who was charged on April 18, 2024, in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party.

“Investigations continue and we are unable to comment further.”

Police launched the investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances in 2021 following allegations about how £600,000 of cash earmarked for independence campaigning was spent.

Murrell was previously arrested in April last year but released at that point without charge, pending further investigation.

Police at the time set up large tents outside the home he shares with Sturgeon as they searched the property.

Sturgeon and Beattie were also both arrested last year and released pending further investigation.

“A standard prosecution report has been received by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service from Police Scotland in relation to a 59-year-old man and incidents said to have occurred between 2016 and 2023,” a spokesperson for the prosecution service said.

“Connected investigations of two other individuals, a man aged 72 and a 53-year-old woman, remain ongoing.

“Professional prosecutors from COPFS and independent counsel will review this report. They will make decisions on the next steps without involving the Lord Advocate or Solicitor General. All Scotland’s prosecutors operate independently of political influence.”

“Before deciding what action to take, if any, in the public interest, prosecutors will consider if there is enough evidence. There must be evidence from at least two separate sources to establish that a crime was committed and that the person under investigation was the perpetrator.

“This evaluation will involve a thorough examination of the numerous witness statements and extensive evidence collected by police. Prosecutors may instruct the police to conduct further investigations before taking a decision.

“Decisions on how to proceed are taken by prosecutors acting independently, and are based upon available evidence, legal principles, and the merits of each case. They are not influenced by political events.”

When making a decision, prosecutors will consider all the specific facts and circumstances of a case. The criteria for decision making and the range of options available to prosecutors are set out in the publicly available Prosecution Code.

These matters are active under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. The provisions of this Act protect the integrity of proceedings, preserve access to justice for victims and secure the rights of people under investigation.

Anyone publishing items about active cases is advised to exercise caution as material must not be commentary or analysis of evidence, witnesses or accused. Contempt of Court carries penalties of up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

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