Sturgeon says she is ‘innocent of any wrongdoing’ after arrest and release

The former first minister has been released without charge pending further investigation, ITV News Scotland reporter Peter Smith reports

Nicola Sturgeon has proclaimed her “innocence” after her arrest by police investigating the SNP’s finances.

The former Scotland First Minister said her arrest on Sunday was “both a shock and deeply distressing” and added that “I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing”.

The former SNP party leader was released without charge pending further investigation on Sunday.

She was held for seven hours by police questioning her in connection with detectives’ ongoing probe into the SNP’s finances.

Her spokesperson earlier said she had been arrested on Sunday “by arrangement” with Police Scotland, and was cooperating with their investigation.

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.

Nicola Sturgeon with her husband Peter Murrell. Credit: PA

Earlier on Sunday, the force confirmed Ms Sturgeon was in custody and being questioned by detectives.

Police Scotland said: "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."

A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said she voluntarily attended an interview with police and that she would co-operate with the investigation.

“Nicola has consistently said she would co-operate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so," a spokeswoman said.

Nicola Sturgeon resigned in early 2023 Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Nicola Sturgeon’s statement in full

"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 sy this, and to do so in the strongest possible terms. Innocence is not a presumption I am entitled to 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.”

Later on Sunday, a police spokesperson confirmed Ms Sturgeon had been released without charge pending further investigation.

The former first minister of Scotland is the third person to be questioned in custody by Police Scotland detectives. Her arrest comes after her husband Peter Murrell was arrested in April.

Colin Beattie resigned as SNP treasurer following his arrest. Credit: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA

Mr Murrell and MSP Colin Beattie, who was SNP treasurer at the time, were both released without charge pending further inquiry.

The arrest relates to an investigation into how more than £600,000 in party donations, that were meant for an independence referendum, was used. 

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 SNP’s governing body, the national executive committee, has agreed that a review of transparency and governance in the party should take place.

Ms Sturgeon continues to be the MSP for Glasgow Southside.

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2021: The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – begins.

February 15, 2023: Nicola Sturgeon announces her resignation as first minister, saying it was not related to short-term pressures, but because she knew in her “head and heart” the time was right to go.

March 18: Former SNP chief executive, and Ms Sturgeon's husband, Peter Murrell, steps down as party chief executive during the leadership contest that follows her resignation.

March 29: Following a brief leadership contest, Humza Yousaf is apppointed to replace Ms Sturgeon as First Minister and SNP leader.

Humza Yousaf defeated Ash Regan and Kate Forbes to lead the SNP. Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

April 5: Ms Sturgeon's husband is arrested, and later released without charge pending further inquiry.

April 18: SNP treasurer Colin Beattie has been arrested in connection with a police investigation into the party’s finances, and is later released without charge pending further investigation.

June 11: Ms Sturgeon is arrested in connection with the ongoing probe into the SNP's finances. A spokesperson says the former first minister is cooperating with the investigation.

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