One of the SNP’s most senior figures has conceded Scottish independence cannot be secured in the immediate future and admits the party is facing the biggest crisis in 50 years amid the ongoing police investigation into its finances.

In an exclusive interview with The Herald, SNP President Mike Russell said that to gain independence, a period of sustained campaigning was required because it was not achievable at the moment.

He also said the SNP would be willing to work with others across the wider Yes movement and is also open to working with the Alba Party, which is led by former SNP leader Alex Salmond.

READ MORE: Mike Russell: 'I don’t think Scottish independence can be secured right now'

Mr Russell’s comments came after police officers this week searched the home of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, ex-SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

Mr Murrell was arrested early on Wednesday and released from custody that evening without charge, pending further investigation.

On the same day police also searched the party’s headquarters in Edinburgh, removing crates of items as part of a long-running investigation into the SNP’s finances.

In the interview, Mr Russell admits the last few days have been “wearing” for everyone within the party and added there will now be a wide-ranging review of how the SNP is governed.

He said: “In my 50-year association with the party this is the biggest and most challenging crisis we’ve ever faced, certainly while we’ve been in government.

“But I have an obligation to this party and the movement for Scottish independence that’s been such a massive part of my life for so long.

“I don’t think independence can be secured right now; we need to work towards some coordinated campaigning. But I think this is achievable.

“My main focus is how we can create a new Yes movement that allows for different visions but conducted in an atmosphere of mutual trust.

“That’s going to be really tough, given where we currently are, but it’s vital we find a way to do it.”