Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Police have released Nicola Sturgeon without charge


  • Written by Debbie Jackson and Stuart Nicholson
  • BBC Scotland

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Nicola Sturgeon was taken into police custody on Sunday morning

Nicola Sturgeon was released without charge pending further investigation after he was arrested by police.

The former first minister of Scotland was arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into the SNP’s financing and finances at 10:09 a.m. on Sunday.

After being questioned by investigators, she was released from custody at 17:24.

She has since issued a statement saying, “I know beyond a reasonable doubt that I am innocent of any wrongdoing.”

Police said a report would be sent to the Crown Office and the Attorney-General’s Finance Department.

The force has been investigating over the past two years what happened to £660,000 in donations made to the SNP by independence campaigners for use in a future independence referendum campaign.

Officers were able to question Ms Sturgeon for a maximum of 12 hours before deciding whether to charge her with a crime or release her while they investigated further.

A released suspect pending further investigation can be re-arrested at a later time.

She said: “To find myself in the situation I did today knowing that I did nothing wrong is shocking and very painful.

“I know this ongoing investigation is difficult for people, and I am grateful that so many continue to have faith in me and appreciate that I will do nothing to harm the SNP or the country.”

explain video,

Explaining Nicola Sturgeon’s Arrest in 80 Seconds

She continued, “Innocence is not just a presumption of law. I know beyond a reasonable doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.”

She thanked people for their messages of support as well as her family for “much needed strength at this time”.

He concluded his statement, “While I will take a day or two to address this latest development, I intend to return to Parliament soon where I will continue to represent my Glasgow Southside constituents to the best of my ability.”

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Police patrol the home of Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Morell on Sunday – it is not known where the police are questioning

Ms Sturgeon was succeeded as first minister and leader of the SNP in March by Hamza Yusuf, who is now facing calls from opposition politicians and at least one of his MPs – Angus MacNeil – to suspend her from the party.

Mr. MacNeil chirp: “This series has gone far enough, Nicola Sturgeon has suspended others from the SNP for a lot less!”

Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy also called on Mr Youssef to “show some leadership and suspend his predecessor in the SNP”, in a statement published. on Twitter.

Ms Sturgeon had attended a pre-arranged police interview and was arrested and questioned after her arrival.

It followed the arrest of her husband, former SNP chief executive Peter Morrell, on 5 April by officers who searched the couple’s home in Glasgow as part of the Operation Branchform investigation.

The SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh were searched the same day, and a stately home worth £110,000 was seized by police from outside Muriel’s mother’s home in Dunfermline.

Almost two weeks later, party treasurer Colin Beatty was arrested.

Both men were released pending further investigation, with Mr. Beatty resigning as treasurer shortly afterwards.

The former first minister’s arrest was widely expected as she was one of the three signatories to the SNP accounts along with Mr Morrell and Betty – although there is no indication of when this might happen.

image source, Getty Images

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Police Scotland officers conducted a search at the Scottish National Party headquarters in Edinburgh in April

The Branchform investigation began after complaints were made about what happened to £666,954 donated to the SNP by campaigners for a future independence referendum campaign.

Party accounts later showed he had just under £97,000 in the bank at the end of 2019, with net assets totaling around £272,000.

Last year, it emerged that Morrell had made a loan of more than £100,000 to the SNP to help it solve its “cash flow” problem after the last election.

The SNB had paid off about half of the loan by October of that year, but still owed Morrell – although it did not say how much.

Ms Sturgeon made the shocking announcement on 15 February that she would step down as SNP leader and first minister once a successor is elected, with Hamza Yusuf winning the contest to replace her in March.

Ms Sturgeon said at the time that she knew “in my head and in my heart” it was the right time to go, and denied that the timing had been affected by the ongoing police investigation.

She was Scotland’s first longest-serving female minister, and the only woman to hold the office.

Three things immediately jumped out of Nicola Sturgeon’s statement.

Most obvious is her vehement denial of any wrongdoing, expressed in emphatic terms.

The other is her pledge to return to Holyrood at short notice – something that will no doubt make the parliamentary press pack sharpen pencils and doorstep questions.

The third feature is something not mentioned at all – the question of Mrs. Sturgeon’s continued membership of the SNP, to which some, including one of the party’s MPs, have been raising questions.

When her predecessor, Alex Salmond, was accused of sexual assault in 2018, he quickly quit the party while vowing to clear his name. He was later acquitted of the charges, but never returned to the SNP, instead setting up his own ALBA party.

Mrs Sturgeon may prefer the approach of Colin Beatty, who resigned as SNP treasurer but remained within the party after his arrest and release.

There is a recent precedent there – but this will no doubt still raise questions for Hamza Yusuf about how he intends to handle the latest developments.

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