Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell has been released without charge after being arrested in connection with an investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.
The former SNP chief executive was taken into custody on Wednesday morning while a forensic tent was erected outside the home he shares with Scotland’s former first minister.
Murrell was questioned by detectives for nearly 12 hours before being let go “pending further investigation”.
Police raided several properties on Wednesday morning as part of the probe, including the party’s HQ in Edinburgh.
Police Scotland and the Crown Office are investigating how £600,000 of funding raised by the SNP for campaigning has been spent.
Police said Murrell, 58, was arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation and was being questioned before he was released.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Police Scotland said: “A 58-year-old man who was arrested as a suspect earlier today, Wednesday, April 5 2023, in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation.
“The man was questioned by Police Scotland detectives after he was arrested at 7.45am. He was released from custody at 6.57pm.
“Officers also carried out searches today at a number of addresses as part of the investigation.
“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”
The police urged caution from the public when discussing the case on social media, citing concerns around contempt of court.
Police Scotland continued: “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.
“As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
Just an hour before Murrell’s release, a spokesperson for Sturgeon said she would not be commenting on the investigation, but added: “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.“
Sturgeon was still inside her house when police arrived on Wednesday morning with the ex-SNP leader leaving shortly after. No advance warning of their arrival was given.
Police were seen scouring Sturgeon and Murrell’s back garden at their Uddingston house, with one officer seen holding two spades, although it’s unclear why he was carrying them.
Other officers were seen carrying large blue bags from the SNP’s Edinburgh HQ.
The SNP said the party had been “cooperating fully” with the investigation but would not comment further.
Murrell had been chief executive of the SNP for 20 years until last month when he announced his resignation.
It followed accusations that his party lied to journalists over the true number of its membership.
First Minister Humza Yousaf, who took over from Sturgeon last week, described Wednesday as a “difficult day” for the party.
He said: “My reaction, as you’d imagine, much like anybody involved in the SNP, is that this is a difficulty for the party.
“But, again, I’d just reiterate and emphasise it’s so important for me not to comment on a live police investigation and be seen to prejudice that in any way, shape or form.”
He continued: “I think there’ll be concern from the public but, again, there is a live police investigation under way and we will wait to see what comes at the conclusion of that police investigation.”