British Queen celebrates

Peter Murrell, the husband of former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, has been arrested by detectives investigating the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The police investigation centers around whether £600,000 that was earmarked for independence campaigning was diverted elsewhere in 2021.

Mr. Murrell was the chief executive of the SNP during Ms. Sturgeon's time in office, and he gave a loan of £107,620 to the party to "assist with cashflow" in June 2021. The loan was not properly declared by the party and has been the subject of an investigation by the Electoral Commission. The SNP has been reprimanded for failing to declare the loan, having missed three deadlines required for transparency.

The heavy police presence was seen outside Ms. Sturgeon and Mr. Murrell's Glasgow home, including police vans and a forensics tent, and outside the SNP's headquarters in Edinburgh. The party has stated that it will cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

In January, Police Scotland asked the Crown Office, the Scottish public prosecution service, for "advice and direction" in the case. The SNP's national executive committee (NEC) held a meeting in June 2021, after which treasurer Colin Beattie issued a statement reassuring members that a £600,000 ring-fenced fund would be spent on campaigning for independence. The investigation was launched in July 2021 after complaints were received.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie has stated that the arrest is a "deeply concerning development," and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference. She has also called on Humza Yousaf, Ms. Sturgeon's successor, and Nicola Sturgeon to state what they knew and when.

The arrest is another headache for the SNP and Mr. Yousaf. The party has been mired in controversies, including the Alex Salmond sexual harassment case, which ultimately led to Ms. Sturgeon's resignation. Mr. Murrell's arrest comes as the party's governing body, the NEC, agreed to a review of governance and transparency, to be taken forward in the coming weeks.

In a statement, Police Scotland said: "A 58-year-old man has today, Wednesday, 5 April 2023, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party. The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives. Officers are also carrying out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation. A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service."

It remains to be seen how this arrest will affect the SNP and its future as a political party. It is also unclear whether this arrest will have any impact on Ms. Sturgeon's political career or whether she will face any questioning as part of the investigation. Photo by Scottish Government, Wikimedia commons.