Nicola Sturgeon should consider resigning her SNP membership while the police inquiry into the SNP finances is ongoing, according to former leadership candidate Ash Regan.

The former Scottish Government minister gave her views after Ms Sturgeon was released from custody without charge after seven hours of questioning by officers involved in the long running Operation Branchform.

In a statement following her release, the former first minister insisted she "would never do anything to harm either the SNP or the country" and was "innocent of any wrongdoing".

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, Ms Regan said: "The Government needs to be completely focused on delivering public services and delivering for the people of Scotland in these difficult times."

READ MORE: ‘I’m innocent’: Sturgeon released after arrest over SNP finances probe

She said the probe into the party's finances could be a "distraction" from this, adding:

"I think that Nicola should perhaps consider voluntarily resigning her SNP membership until this can be cleared up."

Resigning would "reaffirm (Ms Sturgeon's) commitment to the principles of the party", she added.

Asked if Ms Sturgeon should be suspended from the party, Ms Regan said her successor as SNP leader and First Minister, Humza Yousaf, may already be considering such a move, adding: "Accountability in these type of situations is really important."

If Nicola Sturgeon does not resign her membership of the SNP, party leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf should consider suspending her, former leadership candidate Ash Regan said.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Surprise resignation turns to shock at what followed

"I think he should consider it," she told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"I would caveat that, and I think she no doubt will be considering whether she should resign from the party at the moment."

Ms Regan, who has been a frequent critic of Ms Sturgeon in recent months, also appeared to suggest the former first minister has broken the party's conduct rules.

"The SNP code of conduct, it does say that members should refrain from conduct that's likely to cause damage or hinder the party's aims," she said.

The Herald:

From left, SNP leadership candidates Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes, pictured as the result was declared naming Mr Yousaf as the winner of the contest. Photo PA.

Asked why she thinks Ms Sturgeon could have broken the rules, Ms Regan said that, while all three of those arrested in the party finance probe have been released without charge pending further investigation, the issue has become a "distraction".

"I think that the leadership and Humza need to really think about taking decisive action at the moment," she said.

Ms Regan's call for Ms Sturgeon to resign her SNP membership comes after calls were made by another prominent SNP politician for her to be suspended pending the outcome of inquiries in line with other politicians who have lost the party whip while under police investigation.

Angus MacNeil, one of the SNP’s longest-serving MPs, having represented the Western Isles since 2005, called for “political distance until the investigation ends either way”.

He added: “This soap opera has gone far enough — Nicola Sturgeon suspended others from the SNP for an awful lot less.”

READ MORE: SNP finances police probe – what we know so far

The call for Ms Sturgeon to be suspended from the SNP was also made by Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour's deputy leader.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was a "shocking state of affairs although not surprising, because I think we all anticipated that at some point Nicola Sturgeon would be arrested for questioning about the SNP finances because she is, of course, the third signatory on the accounts".

Ms Bailie added: "The question in my mind is, given all this chaos, given the kind of secrecy and cover-up that has been the hallmark of how the SNP operate, is whether Humza Yousaf, the current First Minister, is indeed strong enough to suspend her and protect the party.

"I've no doubt in my mind, he absolutely needs to do that."

The Herald:

A police van outside former first minister Nicola Sturgeon's home, in Uddingtson, Glasgow, on Sunday after she was arrested in the police investigation into the SNP's finances. Ms Sturgeon was released without charge pending further investigation after being arrested as part of a police probe into the funding and finances of the SNP, Police Scotland said. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Asked what the consequences have been for Scottish politics, Ms Baillie said: "The impact has been profound, irrespective of what the outcome is.

"The SNP appeal to the people of Scotland based on them projecting an image of being kind of morally superior to the 'corrupt politics', if you like, of the rest of the UK - now that clearly doesn't work for them anymore."

Ms Regan's intervention prompted debate inside the SNP on whether Ms Sturgeon should give up her party membership in wake of her arrest.

While SNP MSP Michelle Thomson released a statement saying the former FM should consider suspending her membership others disagreed.

SNP MSP James Dornan criticised Ms Regan and said she should be the one withdrawing from the party.

Dundee SNP MP Chris Law said he was not suspended from the party when he was arrested and released without charge in 2016 amid a separate police inquiry and said this situation should be the case with anyone in such a position. 

"I was arrested in 2016 and released without charge regarding Spirit of independence campaign. I had the support of the FM Nicola Sturgeon and I was not suspended from the party. This should be the right course for anyone that is in that position," he wrote on Twitter.

A number of SNP parliamentarians have either resigned the party whip or had it withdrawn while being investigated by the police.

Former first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond resigned the party whip after he was arrested by police investigating allegations of sexual offences. Mr Salmond was later charged and acquitted of all charges following his trial at the High Court in Edinburgh. He now leads the Alba Party.

Former SNP MP Michelle Thomson, now an SNP MSP, resigned the party whip being investigated for allegations of fraud.  She was later cleared by prosecutors and readmitted to the party.

Patrick Grady quit the SNP group at Westminster after a two-day suspension from parliament, imposed after the independent parliamentary standards commissioner found he had made the advances to the then 19-year-old man in 2016.

Mr Grady, who was the SNP’s Westminster chief whip from 2017 to 2021, sat as an independent after the Metropolitan police said they were investigating the incident at a pub in London. The Met subsequently said that after undertaking inquiries, including speaking to the alleged victim, it was taking no further action. Mr Grady then had the SNP whip restored.

Former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier had the SNP whip withdrawn after breaking lockdown rules at the height of the Covid pandemic. She now sits as an independent MP and is facing a recall petition in her seat of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

In Holyrood former children's minister Mark McDonald was forced to resign from the SNP amid a parliamentary investigation into claims of sexual misconduct. He was ultimately found to have sexually harassed a woman by sending her inappropriate messages. He did not have the party whip restored and stood down from parliament at the 2021 election.

Former Scottish Government Finance Secretary Derek Mackay resigned from the SNP in February 2020 amid allegations he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.

He stood down from his Cabinet role and Ms Sturgeon later announced he was also suspended from the SNP.

Police Scotland carried out an investigation into the messages Mr Mackay sent to the teenager and concluded no crime had been committed.

Responding to Ms Regan's comments, Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “If Nicola Sturgeon cares about her party and country as much as she claimed in her statement on Sunday, she should resign from the SNP until this case is resolved one way or another.

“Of course, the choice ought to be taken out of her hands by Humza Yousaf showing some leadership and suspending her from the party.

“It’s not just me, as an opposition politician, saying this. Senior SNP politicians, such as Angus MacNeil and Ash Regan, recognise that there is a precedent in the party for suspending MSPs and MPs who are under police investigation, and that the former First Minister should not be treated any differently.

“We know Humza Yousaf was Nicola Sturgeon’s chosen successor, and the First Minister revealed in his interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that he is still in regular contact with her.

“He ought to explain what he’s been discussing with her because the suspicion is that Nicola Sturgeon – along with Peter Murrell and Colin Beattie – is getting special treatment by the SNP because of her closeness to Humza Yousaf.

“The investigation into the SNP’s murky finances is an extremely serious matter and everyone in the party – including the former and current First Ministers – have a duty to cooperate fully with the police.”

Meanwhile, there were no signs of activity at Nicola Sturgeon's home this morning.
There appeared to be nobody at the property in Glasgow while a few journalists and photographers were gathered outside.