Nicola Sturgeon arrested in SNP finances investigation

Nicola Sturgeon

Former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Police Scotland confirmed that the 52-year-old was reportedly taken into custody on Sunday (11 June) as part of the inquiry, where she will be questioned by detectives.

In a statement on the investigation, Police Scotland said: “The matter is active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.

“As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

Officers searched the former first minister‘s home and party headquarters on 5 April as part of the investigation, seizing a luxury motorhome in the process.

Her husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell was arrested at the time and released without charge.

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Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested two weeks later and released without charge.

An investigation into a donation of more than £600,000 to the SNP was launched in 2021, dubbed Operation Branchform.

The money was raised for a future referendum campaign on Scottish independence.

A spokesperson for Sturgeon confirmed that she was cooperating with the investigation, saying: “Nicola Sturgeon has today, Sunday 11 June, by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned in relation to Operation Branchform.

“Nicola has consistently said she would cooperate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so.”

After serving as Scotland’s first minister for eight years, Sturgeon stepped down on 15 February, saying that she knew “in my head and in my heart” this was the right time to leave her post. 

As the longest-serving first minister and the first woman to hold the position, Sturgeon fought tirelessly for trans rights, overseeing the passing of the historic Gender Recognition Reform Act in December 2022

The legislation aimed to remove barriers to accessing a Gender Recognition Certificate, which Sturgeon said would make trans people’s lives “that little bit better and easier”.

However, the UK government blocked the legislation with the unprecedented use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act.

First minister Humza Yousaf, who succeeded Sturgeon as Scottish National Party leader on 27 March, immediately confirmed that he would mount a legal challenge to the Section 35 order, a move celebrated by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.