Sturgeon says it's an 'incredibly difficult' time after husband charged by police over SNP finances

The husband of ex-first minister Nicola Sturgeon been charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party, ITV News Scotland Reporter Louise Scott reports

Scotland's former first minister Nicola Sturgeon said it's been "incredibly difficult" since her husband was charged in connection with a police investigation into SNP finances.

Ms Sturgeon spoke briefly to journalists outside her home near Glasgow that she shares with husband Peter Murrell, a former SNP chief executive.

The 59-year-old was on Thursday charged by police in connection with the alleged embezzlement of funds.

He was taken into custody for questioning at 9.13am and was charged at 6.35pm after further questioning by Police Scotland investigating the funding and finances of the party.

Mr Murrell is no longer in police custody.

Speaking to media outside her home on Friday, Ms Sturgeon said the situation was “incredibly difficult”.

She told journalists, “I can’t say any more” before leaving in a car.

First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf described it as “a really serious matter indeed".

The development came more than a year after Mr Murrell was originally arrested as part of the investigation known as Operation Branchform into the spending of more than £600,000 in donations for independence campaigning.

On April 5, 2023, Police Scotland officers searched Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s home.

After an 11-hour questioning he was released without charge pending further investigation.

Ms Sturgeon, who resigned as first minister and SNP leader in February 2023, was arrested two months after her husband, while the former party treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested.

Both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Beattie were released without charge pending further investigation.

Nicola Sturgeon with her husband Peter Murrell. Credit: PA

With Murrell having resigned his membership of the SNP, Mr Yousaf gave his reaction to what he described as “serious, serious developments”.

The SNP leader said: “As per the police statement, it is a very serious development.

“As per the police statement, it’s an allegation of embezzlement from the party. That’s really serious indeed.”

Mr Yousaf added: “Many people in the SNP, right across Scottish politics, will be shocked by the news.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “While this development will come as a shock, the police investigation remains ongoing and it would, therefore, be inappropriate to make any comment.”

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy said: “The announcement that Peter Murrell has been charged by Police Scotland is an extremely serious development in the investigation into the SNP’s finances.

“As the police probe continues, it is now more important than ever that all SNP staff and politicians, past and present, fully co-operate.

“The investigation, which has been going on for three years, appears to be reaching a conclusion and the SNP must commit to being fully open and transparent in this critical phase.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: “Senior professional prosecutors from COPFS and an Advocate Depute are working with police on this ongoing investigation.

“It is standard practice that any case regarding politicians is dealt with by prosecutors without the involvement of the Lord Advocate or Solicitor General. All Scotland’s prosecutors act independently of political interference.

“As is routine, to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, we do not comment in detail on their conduct.”

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