Scotland's Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone QPM has called for ‘prudence and responsibility’ from civic leaders and politicians when commenting on the ongoing Police Scotland investigation into the Scottish National Party’s finances and said he will ‘fiercely resist any attempt to bring political pressure to my decision making or upon any police operation’.

The chief constable was speaking at this morning’s meeting of the Scottish Police Authority Board (Thursday, 25 May) and gave a wide-ranging statement which highlighted ‘limited investment in police infrastructure’ and admitted ‘Police Scotland is institutionally racist.’

Livingstone also addressed the ongoing investigation into the Scottish National Party’s finances, which has led to resignations within the party and also two arrests.

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The case has been widely reported in the media and discussed on social media and, reflecting on such scrutiny he said: “As chief constable I greatly value such assurance, oversight and challenge. It is a necessary, vital, productive and a key component to maintain and build public trust in policing and vital to maintain our democratic legitimacy. I truly feel the more people know about policing, understand what we actually do and how we actually do it, the more the trust and support of our fellow citizens increases.”

He then focused on Branchform in particular and on ‘operational independence’ as well as ‘political interference’.

“In carrying out our duties, the operational independence of the chief constable is a key democratic principle” he said.

“Of course, the core element of that essential operational independence is the high level of accountability I have just described. It follows from that that police investigations must be allowed to progress without any form of political interference.

“I have previously asserted and will reassert today that I fiercely resist any attempt to bring political pressure to my decision making or upon any police operation. Police operations are and will be based on public safety, the rule of law, not politics or any constitutional position.

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“Under Operation Branchform a dedicated team of officers from Police Scotland’s specialist crime division continue their investigation into the funding and finances of the Scot Nat Party, working closely and in conjunction with experienced and independent prosecutors in the Crown Office and procurator fiscal service.

“A diligent, thorough and proportional enquiry is being conducted with integrity and two individuals have been arrested and subsequently released without charge pending further investigations, which continue.”

He continued: "I fully understand and recognise the high level of public interest in this particular case, but due process must and will be followed at all times, within whatever timescales are necessary – timescales set by investigative considerations not political considerations.

“I would request, I would urge all civic leaders, if offering any comment or thoughts on what is a live investigation, to act with prudence and responsibility, inaccurate assertions and ill-informed speculation will only serve to damage justice, infringe the rights of individuals and undermine the rule of law.”

More to follow.