The outspoken former SNP leadership candidate demands ‘decisive action’ against Sturgeon, Peter Murrell and Colin Beattie
Ash Regan wants Nicola Sturgeon, pictured right with Ian Blackford and local MPs Martin Docherty Hughes and Brendan O’Hara, suspended
By Lucy Ashton
Former SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan has joined the calls for Humza Yousaf to suspend Nicola Sturgeon after her arrest as a suspect and questioning for seven hours as part of the police probe into the party’s finances.
The backbench MSP – seen as a standard bearer for those who want a tougher line on independence – also suggested the party leader should suspend Ms Sturgeon’s husband, the former chief executive Peter Murrell, and ex-treasurer Colin Beattie. Both men were arrested as part of the same investigation in April.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Ms Regan said: “We’ve seen three senior members who have been arrested and whilst that is quite true, innocent until proven guilty, they’ve all been released without charge, this is a bit of a distraction to the party and the work of government.
“So, I think the leadership in Humza need to really think about taking decisive action at the moment.”
She also suggested that Ms Sturgeon would today be considering “voluntarily” handing in her membership.
She said: “I think it is a distraction and I think that Nicola, perhaps, should consider voluntarily resigning her SNP membership until this can be cleared up.”
Ms Regan added: “I think Nicola is no doubt considering that at the moment and I think there is precedent in the party for people who have been involved of issues of this type to resign from the party, so I think if she were to voluntarily suspend her membership until this can be cleared up that would reaffirm her commitment to the principles of the party.”
However, when it was put to her that Ms Sturgeon has maintained her “complete innocence” and insisted she would be back at the Scottish Parliament soon to continue her work as the MSP for Glasgow South-side, Ms Regan suggested that should force Mr Yousaf to act.
“I think he should consider [suspending her] under those circumstances,” she said.
The Edinburgh Eastern MSP even said the former first minister and party leader may have broken the SNP’s code of conduct.
She said: “We do have a code of conduct that says members should refrain from conduct that is likely to cause damage or hinder the party’s aims, so I think that Nicola will no doubt be considering resigning from the party.”
There were no signs of activity at Nicola Sturgeon’s home on Monday morning. There appeared to be nobody at the property in Glasgow while a few journalists and photographers were gathered outside.
The Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour also say Ms Sturgeon must be suspended, while Ms Regan becomes the second SNP figure to call for action following Western Isle MP Angus MacNeil.
He tweeted on Sunday: “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.”
Please find our comment on Humza Yousaf’s refusal to suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP while the police investigation into the party’s finances is ongoing: Humza Yousaf will not suspend Sturgeon from SNP – BBC News
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “This is the action of a weak leader unable to stand up to the predecessor to whom he owes his job.
“Humza Yousaf’s claim that he has ‘no reason’ to suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP is fooling no one. He knows, as everyone else does, that there’s a clear precedent in his party for MPs and MSPs under investigation to be suspended until the conclusion of their case.
“And, in this instance, the police probe into the SNP’s murky finances is very much ongoing.
“Several senior SNP figures have already said it’s wrong for Nicola Sturgeon to receive favourable treatment by the party.
“But the reason Humza Yousaf will not follow the precedent – which was set by his predecessor when she was party leader – is because he’s hopelessly compromised by the fact that he only won the leadership election thanks to the backing of Nicola Sturgeon and her inner circle.”