SNP urged to co-operate with police after Peter Murrell embezzlement charge

The SNP has been urged to co-operate with the police investigation into the party’s finances after its former chief executive Peter Murrell was charged in connection with embezzlement of funds.

The 59-year-old husband of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon was taken into custody for questioning on Thursday morning, more than a year after his first arrest.

Police confirmed on Thursday evening he has been charged as part of the probe.

He has resigned his SNP membership.

Police outside Nicola Sturgeon's house
A police patrol passes the home of Nicola Sturgeon in Uddingston after her husband Peter Murrell was charged in connection with embezzlement of SNP funds (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy urged the SNP to “fully-cooperate” as the investigation continues.

He said: “The announcement that Peter Murrell has been charged by Police Scotland is an extremely serious development in the investigation into the SNP’s finances.

“As the police probe continues, it is now more important than ever that all SNP staff and politicians, past and present, fully co-operate.

“The investigation, which has been going on for three years, appears to be reaching a conclusion and the SNP must commit to being fully open and transparent in this critical phase.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “While this development will come as a shock, the police investigation remains ongoing and it would, therefore, be inappropriate to make any comment.”

Murrell’s charge is part of a probe known as Operation Branchform into the spending of more than £600,000 in donations for independence campaigning.

Police Scotland said in a statement: “A 59-year-old man has today Thursday April 18 been charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party.

“The man, who was arrested at 9.13am today and had previously been arrested as a suspect on April 5 2023, was charged at 6.35pm after further questioning by Police Scotland detectives investigating the funding and finances of the party.

“A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in due course.

“The man is no longer in police custody.

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

“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.”

Murrell arrived at the home he shares with Ms Sturgeon on the outskirts of Glasgow shortly after 8pm on Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon, who resigned as first minister and SNP leader in February 2023, was arrested two months after her husband was first arrested, while former party treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested last year.

Both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Beattie were released without charge pending further investigation.

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 Ms Sturgeon since 2010.