Now SNP faces calls to suspend Nicola Sturgeon from party after her arrest

Nicola Sturgeon expected to be ‘questioned by police if not arrested’

The SNP is facing calls to suspend Nicola Sturgeon from the party after her arrest today. The former First Minister was taken into custody by Police Scotland earlier as part of the investigation into the SNP’s finances.

Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy called for current SNP First Minister Humza Yousaf to immediately suspend her membership from the party.

He 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.

“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.”

SNP MSP Ms Thomson was not under investigation by police when she was suspended by the party. Instead, a solicitor whose services she used was under investigation.

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray MP called on Humza Yousaf to “urgently come clean on what he knows”.

He 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.”

He added: “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.”

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Just hours before Ms Sturgeon’s arrest, SNP leader Mr Yousaf told the BBC Ms Sturgeon is “in a good place and doing well”.

He said he welcomed advice from “one of the best politicians, the most impressive politicians, Europe has seen over the last couple of decades”.

Commenting on Ms Sturgeon’s arrest, a Police Scotland statement said: “A 52-year-old woman has today, Sunday, 11 June, 2023, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.

“The woman is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives.

“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”

But a spokesperson for the SNP said the arrest took place after an interview with the police “by arrangement”.

They said: “Nicola Sturgeon has today, Sunday 11th 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 co-operate with the investigation.”

Speculation about Nicola Sturgeon’s arrest had been ramped up following the arrest of Mr Beattie in April, as only she, Mr Beattie and Mr Murrell had signed off the SNP’s accounts for 2021/2022.

Speaking outside her Glasgow home following the arrest of her husband, the former Party Chief Executive, Ms Sturgeon promised to cooperate with the police inquiry if required.

The former First Minister is the third arrest made by the force, following her husband Peter Murrell and party treasurer Colin Beattie.

Mr Murrell and MSP Colin Beattie, who was SNP treasurer at the time, were both released without charge pending further inquiry.

As well as the arrests, searches were carried out at a number of properties, including Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s home – where a police tent was erected in the garden – and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

A luxury £100,000 motorhome was also seized from outside the home of Mr Murrell’s mother in Dunfermline, Fife.

The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – began in 2021.

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