Nicola Sturgeon has inisisted she is “innocent of any wrongdoing” following her arrest by police investigating the finances of the SNP.
Sturgeon was released without charge after seven hours of questioning on Sunday (June 11) but Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf, leader of the SNP, is being urged to suspend her from the party.
Police said they arrested Sturgeon “as a suspect” in their inquiry into the alleged misuse of donations to the SNP totalling £600,000 for a second independence referendum
Only hours before Sturgeon’s arrest, Yousaf had paid glowing tribute, calling his predecessor “one of the most impressive politicians Europe has seen over the last couple of decades”.
After her arrest, Sturgeon said she found it “a shock and deeply distressing” and thanked people for sending their messages of support.
Sturgeon led the SNP for nine years and in a statement posted on Twitter an hour after her release from police questioning, insisted “in the strongest possible terms” she had not broken the law.
“Innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled to in law. I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing,” said Sturgeon.
Yousaf is under pressure to act and calls to suspend the former first minister are growing, even within SNP ranks.
Angus MacNeil, the SNP’s Western Isles/Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP wasted no time in voicing his opinion, posting on Twitter while Sturgeon was still under arrest: “This soap-opera has gone far enough, Nicola Sturgeon suspended others from the SNP for an awful lot less!
“Time for political distance until the investigation ends either way.”
Former SNP minister Ash Regan, who challenged Yousaf in the recent leadership election to replace Sturgeon, said she should “consider voluntarily resigning her SNP membership until this is cleared up”.
Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives Craig Hoy said: “Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures – including Humza Yousaf – must co-operate fully with this police investigation and commit to full transparency surrounding it.
“The SNP continue to be engulfed in murkiness and chaos. Humza Yousaf must now show some leadership and suspend his predecessor from the SNP.”
Sturgeon’s house was searched by police over two days in April when her husband Peter Murrell, former chief executive of the SNP, was arrested as part of the dame investigation into the SNP’s finances. Party treasurer Colin Beattie MSP was arrested two weeks later. Both men were later released without charge pending further inquiry.
The police investigation has been ongoing since July 2021 and relates to £600,000 donations to the SNP raised in 2017 for a second indie referendum. Complaints were made to the police in 2020 after the party’s accounts, submitted to Companies House showed only £97,000 despite the referendum not happening.
Sturgeon, Murrell and Beattie were the three registered officers for the SNP listed in the accounts submitted to the Electoral Commission.