PETER Murrell has been seen in public for the first time since his arrest over the SNP’s finances.

The former party chief executive, who is married to Nicola Sturgeon, was photographed this morning driving away from the couple’s home in Uddingston.

He broke cover the day after Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie resigned as the SNP treasurer after he too was arrested and questioned by detectives.

Mr Murrell, 58, was quizzed on April 5 and Mr Beattie, 71, was questioned on Tuesday.

Both were later released without charge pending further investigation.

Police Scotland is investigating if £660,000 raised by the SNP for Indyref2 was spent on other things.

On the same day officers questioned Mr Murrell and searched his house, the force seized a luxury £110,000 motorhome from outside the Fife home of his widowed 92-year-old mother. 

Mr Murrell was spotted today by the PA news agency leaving the home he shares with ex-first minister.

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Mr Beattie resigned as SNP treasurer and gave up his seat on Holyrood’s public audit committee on Wednesday afternoon after speaking with leader Humza Yousaf.

His exit meant the First Minister automatically became party treasurer, and is now responsible for checking donations and loans and maintaining SNP accounting records.

The party is urgently seeking a new treasurer although many of the MPs and MSPs who might be expected to take the role have connections to the Sturgeon era.

While others with business experience, such as Michelle Thomson, Ivan McKee and Kate Forbes, opposed Mr Yousaf becoming party leader.

The SNP has also been without auditors since September, after accountants Johnston Carmichael quit.

Making the treasurer's post even less attractive are the looming deadlines for filing the party's 2022 accounts and satisfying the Commons about the MP group's spending to ensure access to £1million a year of state support.

The Herald:

Mr Beattie served as treasurer from 2004 to 2020, and again from 2021 after MP Douglas Chapman swiftly resigned from the post because of a lack of internal transparency.

Mr Yousaf said he hoped to appoint someone to what is usually an elected position soon.

He told the BBC: “We’ll appoint a treasurer in the coming days, but of course, as party leader, I’ll make sure I’m overseeing the finances of the party. But we’ll appoint a new national treasurer as soon as we can.”

Mr Yousaf said the party was “not going to have time” to elect someone to the role, and he ruled out continuing in the job alongside being party leader and First Minister.

After Mr Chapman quit in 2021, Ms Sturgeon was the acting treasurer for three days until the SNP told the Electoral Commission that Mr Beattie would take over.

Asked if he had pushed Mr Beattie to resign, Mr Yousaf said: “Colin and I had a conversation, as you’d expect us to do, and he understood that the best thing for the party was for him to step back as being national treasurer.”

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Opposition politicians criticised the First Minister as weak.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said Mr Beattie’s decision to resign was the “right thing” but it was taken “by the wrong man”.

Scottish Tory chair Craig Hoy said the ex-treasurer should be suspended from the SNP.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the vacancy is the “least appealing” in Scottish political history. 

Mr Beattie’s early morning arrest eclipsed Mr Yousaf’s policy reset on Tuesday, in which the new FM junked or delayed key plans set in motion by his predecessor. 

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said on Wednesday it was “frustrating” that the Scottish Government’s business is being overshadowed.