Peter Murrell, Husband of Nicola Sturgeon, Charged with Embezzling SNP Funds

Peter Murrell, husband of ex-Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, charged with embezzling £600,000 of SNP funds. Scandal rocks Scotland's pro-independence party, raising questions about governance under Sturgeon and Murrell's leadership.

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Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Peter Murrell, Husband of Nicola Sturgeon, Charged with Embezzling SNP Funds

Peter Murrell, Husband of Nicola Sturgeon, Charged with Embezzling SNP Funds

Peter Murrell, the husband of former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was interviewed by police and charged with embezzling £600,000 of Scottish National Party (SNP) funds in April 2024. Murrell, who served as the SNP's chief executive for 22 years, was arrested and questioned for hours as part of Police Scotland's 'Operation Branchform' investigation into the party's funding and finances.

This marks Murrell's second arrest in connection with the investigation. He was previously arrested and released without charge in April 2023. According to reports, senior SNP figures, including government ministers, were informed of the police plans to re-arrest Murrell two days before the arrest. However, an SNP source denied any prior knowledge.

Nicola Sturgeon, who unexpectedly resigned as SNP leader and First Minister in February 2023, was also arrested and questioned as part of the investigation but was released without charge. Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie has also been arrested, questioned, and released without charge in the ongoing probe.

Why this matters: The charges against Peter Murrell represent a shocking setback for Scotland's most powerful political couple, who have been married since 2010 and helped steer the SNP to a dominant position in Scottish politics. The embezzlement scandal has rocked the SNP's finances and raised questions about the party's governance under Sturgeon and Murrell's leadership.

The current First Minister, Humza Yousaf, described the charge against Murrell as both serious and shocking. "The week hadn't been easy," a senior government figure was heard saying at an Eid event hosted by Yousaf on the same day as Murrell's interview.

The SNP ended its three-year power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens in the wake of the scandal, with tensions growing between the two pro-independence parties over climate change policies. The decision means the SNP will now operate as a minority administration, requiring votes from other parties to get legislation and the budget through Parliament.

A week after Murrell's charge, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) had not yet received a report from the police, delaying the prosecution. The SNP and COPFS have declined to comment further on the ongoing investigation. As the SNP faces stiff opposition from the Labour Party in the upcoming UK general election, the future of Scotland's pro-independence governing party remains uncertain in the wake of this shocking scandal involving its former chief executive and the husband of Nicola Sturgeon.

Key Takeaways

  • Peter Murrell, husband of ex-First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, charged with embezzling £600k of SNP funds.
  • Murrell's second arrest in SNP funding probe; senior figures informed of re-arrest plans.
  • Sturgeon and ex-SNP treasurer also arrested but released without charge in ongoing investigation.
  • Scandal rocks SNP, ends power-sharing with Greens, and raises questions about party governance.
  • Prosecution delayed as police report not yet received by prosecutors, SNP's future uncertain.