Nicola Sturgeon’s husband held in party financial probe: UK media

Police Scotland said in a statement that on Wednesday, they had taken a 58-year-old man into custody for questioning over the party’s “funding and finances”. The Guardian and the BBC reported that the man was Peter Murrell, Sturgeon’s husband.

The police investigation is looking into what happened to more than 600,000 pounds ($748,920) that was raised by Scottish independence campaigners in 2017 and went missing from the party’s accounts. There are also questions over a personal loan of more than 100,000 pounds ($124,820) that Murrell provided to the party and failed to declare.

Police Scotland said they were carrying out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation.

“The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives,” the force said.

Police were seen outside the Glasgow home of Murrell and Sturgeon and at SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

The Scottish government said it was a matter for the party.

“It’s a pretty dramatic development although the rumblings about the way the Scottish National Party has been operating its finance have been ongoing for months now,” Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan said.

The police investigation has been under way for 18 months, he said, adding that it has been a “torrid few months” for the party after losing both its chief executive and its leader in quick succession.The SNP plunges deeper into crisis
Murrell, who had run the SNP for more than 20 years, resigned last month, accepting blame after the party falsely denied to the media that it had lost 30,000 members. “While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the outcome,” he said in resigning.The 52-year-old stood down as the leader of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government in February after eight years in power, saying she had become too divisive to lead the nation to independence.

Sturgeon, had led Scotland since 2014 when Scots narrowly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Voters rejected independence in the referendum by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.

While the referendum was billed as a once-in-a-generation decision on independence, Sturgeon and the SNP had pushed for a new vote, arguing that Britain’s departure from the European Union had changed the ground rules.

“It’s undoubtedly true to say that the independence movement has been set back not just by Sturgeon’s departure, not just by the question marks in the way the party has been run but also by public sentiments,” said Brennan, noting that the latest polls in February suggested that a majority of the public would vote “no” to independence if another referendum were held.

“There have been question marks at the way this power couple had essentially dominated Scottish politics and the national party for so many years and whether that was good for the party and good for accountability,” Brennan said.

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