SNP president Michael Russell is to take charge of running the SNP headquarters operation following the resignation of Peter Murrell as the party's chief executive. 

Mr Russell will take on the work on voluntary basis and until a successor to Mr Murrell,who stepped down with immediate effect this morning, has been recruited.

The announcement this afternoon followed a meeting of the party's national executive committee, its ruling body, earlier today and as the contest continues to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and First Minister.

Mr Murrell, who is married to Ms Sturgeon, issued a statement just before noon today, revealing his decision to step down from the role which came a day after the party's head of communications in Holyrood Murray Foote resigned. The Herald revealed this morning that Mr Murrell would face a no confidence motion unless he agreed to go today.

Mr Russell, is a former chief executive of the SNP, was constitution secretary in Ms Sturgeon's government until he stood down from Holyrood ahead of the 2021 election.

The party said the election of a new leader has been overseen throughout by Lorna Finn, the elected National Secretary of the party, and the issuing and counting of ballots is conducted by Mi-Voice a respected independent company.

A resolution passed today by the NEC stated that it had confidence in Ms Finn to oversea the contest and appealed for the candidates to continue the race in a positive manner.

Business convener Kirsten Oswald MP said: “Peter has been a key part of the team that has led the SNP to election win after election win and changed the face of Scottish politics. He steps down with our appreciation for his many years of service and great electoral success.

“As business convener, I called NEC to meet today to take responsibility for ensuring the overall operation of SNP Headquarters and ahead of the election of a new party leader.

“NEC unanimously backed Michael Russell, our widely respected party president and a former chief executive, to take responsibility for day-to-day operations on an interim basis until a new party leader is in place and the process of appointing a permanent replacement is complete.

I am pleased to confirm that Michael has agreed to this. 

“The leadership election has been overseen entirely by the National Secretary Lorna Finn who is responsible for all party elections, not the chief executive, and as a result these changes have no impact on the operation of the leadership contest. The ballots are issued and counted by Mi-Voice, a respected independent company and voting concludes next Monday.

“Throughout this period, I thank the hard working and diligent staff at SNP HQ whose commitment to our party is second to none.”

The NEC agreed the following resolution: "That the National Executive Committee authorises the Party President to take responsibility in a voluntary capacity for the operation of HQ and the work of HQ staff pro tem, pending the election of a new party leader, expresses its confidence in the National Secretary and her supervision of that election, the arrangements for which are robust and independent and calls on the candidates, their teams and all party members to complete the process in a positive and forward looking spirit."