Former first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested amid the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances.
Police Scotland confirmed that a 52-year-old woman had been taken into custody as a suspect in connection with the probe.
The former leader of the SNP is being questioned by detectives and a report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the force said.
Police cautioned the public to be careful when discussing the arrest on social media with proceedings active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.
A Police Scotland statement read: “A 52-year-old woman has today, Sunday, June 11, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.
“The woman is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives.
“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 public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.
“As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
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.
A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said: “Nicola Sturgeon has today, by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned in relation to Operation Branchform.
“Nicola has consistently said she would co-operate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so.”
An SNP spokesperson added: “These issues are subject to a live police investigation.
“The SNP have been cooperating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so however it is not appropriate to publicly address any issues while that investigation is ongoing.”
‘Soap opera has gone on long enough’
One SNP MP appeared to call for Sturgeon to be suspended from the party while the police investigation remained ongoing.
Posting on Twitter, Na h-Eileanan an Iar representative Angus MacNeill branded the affair a “soap opera” and called for “political distance” until the probe was concluded.
“This soap-opera has gone far enough,” he wrote.
“Nicola Sturgeon suspended others from the SNP for an awful lot less!
“Time for political distance until the investigation ends either way.”
That was echoed by Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy, who called on First Minister Humza Yousaf to “show leadership” and suspend Sturgeon from the party.
“Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures – including Humza Yousaf – must cooperate fully with this police investigation and commit to full transparency surrounding it,” he said.
“The SNP continue to be engulfed in murkiness and chaos. This extremely serious matter is continuing to escalate and the result is that the SNP are totally distracted at the worst possible time. This is the time they should be focused on the real priorities facing the people of Scotland, such as the cost-of-living crisis, fixing our NHS and strengthening our economy.”
Labour shadow secretary of state for Scotland, Ian Murray MP, added: “This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.
“For too long, a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP.
“The same culture that leads to police tents in front gardens created the deeply dysfunctional government that is currently failing Scots.
“Humza Yousaf must urgently come clean on what he knows – the people of Scotland deserve answers.”