Nicola Sturgeon released without charge, pending further investigation
Nicola Sturgeon has been released without charge pending further investigation after she was arrested as part of a probe into the SNP’s finances.
The former SNP leader and first minister was arrested on Sunday “by arrangement” with Police Scotland.
The force said she was arrested at 10.09am and was released from custody at 5.24pm.
A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.
The former first minister’s arrest comes after her husband Peter Murrell was arrested in April.
Mr Murrell and MSP Colin Beattie, who was SNP treasurer at the time, were both released without charge pending further inquiry.
As well as the arrests, searches were carried out at a number of properties, including Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s home – where a police tent was erected in the garden – and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.
The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – began in 2021.
It was opened after allegations £600,000 raised for campaigning towards Scottish independence was diverted elsewhere.
Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation as first minister in February this year, saying it was not related to short-term pressures but because she knew in her “head and heart” the time was right to go.
Her husband stepped down as party chief executive during the leadership contest that followed.
Humza Yousaf succeeded Ms Sturgeon as SNP leader and First Minister.
The SNP’s governing body, the national executive committee, agreed that a review of transparency and governance in the party should take place.
Ms Sturgeon continues to be the MSP for Glasgow Southside.
Mr Beattie was arrested and interviewed later in April.
In a statement after being released, Ms Sturgeon said: “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 appreciate 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 to do so in the strongest possible terms.
“Innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled do in law. I know beyond doubt that 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.”
Following Ms Sturgeon’s arrest, a spokeswoman for the SNP said: “These issues are subject to a live police investigation.
“The SNP have been co-operating 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.”
Rival parties also commented on the arrest, with Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray saying: “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.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s fair to say that today’s events will have huge ramifications both for the SNP and the future of Scottish politics.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.