Peter Murrell, the husband of ex-first minister Nicola Sturgeon and former SNP chief executive, has been released without charge, after his shock arrest in connection with a long-running probe into the SNP’s finances.

Detectives questioned him for nearly 12 hours.

The couple’s home near Glasgow  was cordoned off for most of the day with Police Scotland officers conducting a thorough search of the house and garden.

Several police vehicles were parked outside and a blue tent had been erected in front of the property.

The Herald:

A search was also carried out at the party’s HQ in Edinburgh Jackson’s Entry, with officers removing crates and boxes.

It's thought other properties were also targeted.

READ MORE: Police search SNP HQ following arrest of Peter Murrell

First Minister Humza Yousaf admitted the situation was “not great“ for his party, but he promised the SNP would cooperate fully with the investigation.

In a statement, Police Scotland said: "A 58-year-old man who was arrested as a suspect earlier today, Wednesday 5 April 2023, in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party has been released without charge pending further investigation.

"The man was questioned by police Scotland detectives after he was arrested at 7:45am. He was released from custody at 6:57pm.

"Officers also carried out searches today at a number of addresses as part of the investigation.

"A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

"The matter remains active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media."

The force said they would not comment further while the investigation was ongoing.



The police investigation, known as Operation Branchform, was launched in July 2021 after a complaint by former SNP council candidate and independence activist, Sean Clerkin. 

It followed a number of different fundraising pushes which saw the party raise over £660,000 for independence campaigning. 

The police investigation has been rumbling on for the last 18 months, but has intensified in recent weeks.

On February 12, the Herald on Sunday reported that senior SNP figures had been contacted by the force as part of efforts to step up the investigation.

Three days later, Ms Sturgeon announced she was quitting as SNP leader and First Minister.

Yesterday, her successor said he did not think the two were related. 

“Nicola’s legacy stands on its own,” Humza Yousaf told reporters. 

“Nicola’s legacy, whether it’s in relation to care-experienced young people and keeping The Promise, whether it’s on tackling child poverty, there are many legacies she can stand on, and I think that’s what she’ll be judged on.”

He continued: “I believe her very much when she says how exhausted she was.

“I think anybody who watched her over the course of the pandemic during those daily briefings, day after day, I think anybody could understand how exhausting that is.

“So, no, I don’t think this is the reason why Nicola Sturgeon stood down.”

He insisted the SNP would cooperate fully with the police investigation.

The Herald:

The First Minister said officers searching the party’s HQ in Edinburgh “will not be impeded in any way shape or form and terms of their investigation”. 

“As you'll understand, I can't comment on a live police investigation but what I can say and what reassurance I absolutely can give is that the SNP has been fully cooperating in that police investigation, and will continue to do so.

“The party agreed at my first NEC as party leader that we'd instruct a review into governance and transparency of the party with some external input. So we'll give the full details of that in the coming weeks.”

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar says SNP faces 'big questions' after Peter Murrell arrest

Asked when he was first made aware of Mr Murrell’s arrest, the SNP leader said it was on Wednesday morning, “after the event”.

“I think that's really important for me to stress,” he added. “So of course, I am following it just as much as anybody else is.” 

The First Minister admitted the situation was “not great” for the SNP.

“I think the sooner we can get to a conclusion in this police investigation, the better but it's really up to the police, to of course, investigate in due course, in the way that they see fit and appropriate, so we'll make sure we fully cooperate. 

“What I can do as the new SNP leader, as somebody who's had no involvement in the party finances in the past, is hopefully bring that new leadership and I think the review that I've spoken about and NEC has agreed to governance and transparency without external input is going to be key.”

Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said Mr Yousaf had questions to answer too. 

“This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference."

She added: “We need Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon to urgently state what they knew and when."

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon spokesman says she had no 'prior knowledge' of action

Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary Donald Cameron said: “Senior SNP politicians, including Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, must cooperate fully with the investigation into this very serious case and commit to openness and transparency.

“While there is an ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances, and given that a suspect has now been arrested, it is right that due process is followed and any potential wrongdoing investigated thoroughly by the police.”

Alex Salmond, the leader of the Alba party said he could not comment on the specifics of the case. "I led the SNP for a long time, so I'm very sad about what's happening and indeed about what it's become.

"But you should remember that the cause of independence and the case for it has never been stronger. And that's what myself and Alba are concentrating on putting forward."