BREAKING NEWS: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s former first minister, arrested in SNP finances inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon surrounded by three SNP MPs – Ian Blackford, Martin Docherty Hughes, West Dunbartonshire, and Brendan O’Hara, Argyll and Bute.

By Bill Heaney

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the SNP, according to BBC Scotland News.

Police confirmed a 52-year-old woman was taken into custody as a suspect and is being questioned by detectives.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray MP said: “This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.  For too long, a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP.”

“The same culture that leads to police tents in front gardens created the deeply dysfunctional government that is currently failing Scots.

“Humza Yousaf must urgently come clean on what he knows – the people of Scotland deserve answers.”

Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy MSP, said: “Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures – including Humza Yousaf – must cooperate 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.

“The SNP set that precedent when politicians such as Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry were under investigation and must do so again here.

Conservative Craig Hoy, Labour’s Ian Murray and LibDem Alex Cole-Hamilton.

“This extremely serious matter is continuing to escalate and the result is that the SNP are totally distracted at the worst possible time. This is the time they should be focused on the real priorities facing the people of Scotland, such as the cost-of-living crisis, fixing our NHS and strengthening our economy.”

Speaking following the arrest of former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Obviously we can’t comment on a live police investigation and justice must be allowed to take its course.

“It’s fair to say that today’s events will have huge ramifications both for the SNP and the future of Scottish politics.”

On 5 April, officers searched Ms Sturgeon’s home and the party’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

They also arrested her husband Peter Murrell, former SNP chief executive, who was released without charge.

A luxury motorhome was also seized by police from outside the home of Mr Murrell’s mother in Dunfermline.

Almost two weeks later, SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was arrested and released without charge.

Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, Peter Murrell, and SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was arrested and released without charge.

Mr Murrell and Mr Beattie were both treated as suspects and were taken into custody for the legally defined period of up to 12 hours of questioning before being released pending further inquiries.

Under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, police can release a suspect for further investigation, but they can be re-arrested at a later date.

Nicola Sturgeon served as Scotland’s first minister for eight years.

Her shock resignation came on 15 February when she said she knew “in my head and in my heart” this was the right time to step down.

She is the longest-serving first minister and was the first woman to hold the position.

Ms Sturgeon insisted her resignation was not in response to the “latest period of pressure”, which has included controversies over gender reforms, trans prisoners and the strategy on independence.

However, within a month of her last day on 28 March, the investigation into the SNP’s finances – which began almost two years ago – came to the fore.

Complaints had been made relating to more than £600,000 that was donated to the SNP by activists.

The money was raised after the party sought to raise funds for a future referendum campaign, and Police Scotland launched Operation Branchform to examine what happened to it.

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