Police report on SNP finance probe expected ‘in a matter of weeks’

Scotland’s most senior police officer has said detectives probing SNP party finances will report their findings to prosecutors “in a matter of weeks”.

Police Scotland’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell said in a broadcast interview she had a team of “very skilled” individuals working on the long-running case involving £600,000 in donations for independence campaigning.

She also said "there's no conspiracy" around the investigation and that "policing is completely independent of politics".

Earlier this year the SNP’s former chief executive Peter Murrell, the husband of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, was rearrested and charged in connection with embezzlement of party funds.

Murrell and Sturgeon were both arrested and questioned last year and released without charge as part of the probe, which has been ongoing since July 2021.

Asked why the investigation, known as Operation Branchform, was taking so long Farrell told Sky News: “It’s a live investigation, complex investigation, and the matter is being progressed and we expect the report to go to the Crown Office in a matter of weeks.”

Quizzed about the political sensitivities of the investigation in what is set to become an election year Farrell added: “We’ve investigated allegations, moving on we have very skilled, professional, objective individuals working on that case.”

Farrell refused to be drawn on whether or not she expected more individuals to be charged in connection with the case before the report goes to the Crown.

But she told LBC: "In relation to the man that's been charged, I anticipate in a matter of weeks the report will be submitted to the Crown."

She added: "Policing is completely independent of politics. I'm really clear of my policing independence and I have every confidence that the teams investigating those allegations will do so objectively."

She continued: "There's no conspiracy."

Murrell stepped down as SNP chief executive – a role he had held for more than 20 years – during last year’s leadership campaign.

He has been married to Sturgeon since 2010.

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