The chief executive of the SNP Peter Murrell today announced his resignation with immediate effect.

In a statement released just before midday, Mr Murrell said he had not planned to announce his departure from the role until the end of the leadership contest, due to finish on March 27, but he had become a distraction to the campaign and the debate over Scotland's future.

Mr Murrell had been told this morning to step down from the role by the end of the day or face a no confidence motion from the party’s national executive committee, its ruling body.

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The development came a day after the party's head of communications, Murray Foote, stepped down after releasing inaccurate membership figures to journalists.

Here's how opposition parties reacted to the news: 

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie

“This latest resignation of a top SNP figure goes to show that the wheels have fallen off the SNP wagon.

“When Scotland most needs responsible governance, the SNP has turned inward and begun to tear itself apart. If this is what is happening in the party, just imagine the chaos in government.

“Even leadership candidates have cast aspersions on the trustworthiness of the SNP machine. 

“While Scots struggle to get by, the SNP are fighting like ferrets in a sack. Scotland deserves better than this divided SNP government.”

Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine


Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP

 “A fish rots from the head down – and the same applies to the SNP. 

“Peter Murrell’s resignation is long overdue – but there remain serious questions for him to answer, not least over the ‘missing’ £600k from party accounts.

“The brutal, shambolic SNP leadership election appears to have been the tipping point that’s forced the First Minister’s husband to quit before he was pushed. 

“When two of the three candidates publicly question the integrity of the contest to elect Scotland’s First Minister and the party’s top spin doctor quits because he was fed lies by senior party figures, then the game is up.

“While he may be quitting as chief executive, Peter Murrell must fully cooperate with any probes into the way this leadership election has been run – and with the police inquiry into the SNP’s finances.

“This ongoing SNP civil war is disastrous for the whole of Scotland. How can a party that is unable to govern itself possibly govern the country?

“The public’s real priorities are being ignored as the SNP turns inwards on itself – and that will remain the case whoever emerges from this carnage as First Minister.” 

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union

 “The party of government is imploding, guilty of cover-up and lying to the Scottish people.

“Murrell’s resignation, along with other senior figures in the SNP, shows that the nationalists are no longer fit to govern.

“This has not only shaken people’s confidence in the contest to select the next First Minister, is it also eroding trust in the government elected to run our public services.

“That’s why a growing majority of people in Scotland want a more positive future for our country as part of the United Kingdom.”