Nicola Sturgeon was previously known as Scotland’s longest-serving first minister, but her reputation has significantly faltered since her resignation in early 2023.
On Sunday 11th June 2023 Sturgeon was arrested due to allegations of financial misconduct.
Since Sturgeon’s questioning by the police, she has been released from custody without charge, although further inquiries and investigations are pending. Despite the allegations of misconduct and financial misdeeds, Sturgeon has asserted her innocence regarding this police investigation. On Sunday night, Sturgeon claimed that: “I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.”
Sturgeon visited the police station willingly and claimed that she had an “arrangement” with the Scottish Police. Sturgeon was arrested on Sunday morning at 10:09am and was held in custody until 17:24pm that same day. During this detainment, Sturgeon was questioned by detectives about the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Peter Murrell, the husband of Nicola Sturgeon, was previously arrested merely fifty days after her resignation. Murrell was a Chief Executive for the SNP and was arrested because of his involvement in the financial misconduct and misdeeds of the SNP.
Allegedly, Murrell released false party membership statistics to the media and has also been accused of misspending £60,000 of donations from an Independence Campaign in 2017. It is alleged that the accumulated £60,000 was misspent by this political party, and therefore Murrell was arrested as part of ‘Operation Branchform’.
Since then, there has been further controversy wracking the SNP. Within two weeks of Murrell’s arrest, an MSP and Treasurer for the SNP, Colin Beattie, was also arrested. Beattie was similarly arrested as part of this operation and subsequently resigned from his position as Party Treasurer shortly after his arrest.
Therefore, Sturgeon has now been the third senior SNP member to be arrested as part of this coo, due to her alleged involvement in ‘Operation Branchform’. Since Sturgeon’s recent arrest, critics and commentators have recommended that she stands down from her position as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP). Further, the Current First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, has been implored to suspend Sturgeon as a member of this party.
Yousaf, who has held the title of First Minister of Scotland since March 2023, has refused to take any disciplinary action against Sturgeon. Yousaf has stated that it would be unfair for Sturgeon to be suspended, or forced to resign, since she hasn’t been charged by the Scottish Police, and her involvement in this scandal remains alleged.
However, Yousaf has been faced with ample criticism due to his decision regarding Sturgeon’s position within the SNP. Yousaf has been accused of showing favouritism towards the previous First Minister, and giving preferential treatment to the previous First Minister of Scotland. Yousaf’s claim that there is “no reason” to suspend Sturgeon from her political position caused controversy amongst the British public, especially considering the pair’s public friendship.
Yousaf gave a closing statement in which he said: “Nicola Sturgeon, like Colin Beattie, like Peter Murrell, was released without charge. Therefore I see no reason for their membership to be suspended”.
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