'Deeply distressed' Nicola Sturgeon questioned for seven hours over SNP finances

Nicola Sturgeon said she was left "deeply distressed" after being arrested yesterday in the investigation into the SNP’s finances.

Scotland's former First Minister was questioned by detectives for seven hours as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.

After being released from custody pending further investigation on Sunday, the former SNP leader tweeted her “shock” and “distress” at the situation.

She said: “To find myself in the situation I did today when I am certain I have committed no offence is both a shock and deeply distressing.

“I know that this ongoing investigation is difficult for people, and I am grateful that so many continue to show faith in me and appreciate that I would never do anything to harm either the SNP or the country.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to say that she was “innocent of any wrongdoing,” adding: “Obviously, given the nature of this process, I cannot go into detail.

“However, I do wish to say this, and to do so in the strongest possible terms. Innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled to in law. I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.”

Political commentator James Melville said the fallout from Ms Sturgeon's arrest could cost the SNP a significant number of seats at the next general election.

Speaking to TalkTV's Kevin O'Sullivan, he said: "Regardless of what happens with the investigation, the ramifications of this are huge. The SNP are beginning to tank in polls and there’s a loss of trust.

Ms Sturgeon husband Peter Murrell was arrested in April 2023 and released without charge pending further inquiry (ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

It almost feels like the last days of Saigon with this party. They could lose half their seats at the next election based on current polls."

Police opened an investigation into the SNP’s finances in July 2021 after allegations that £600,000 raised for a potential independence referendum campaign had been diverted elsewhere.

Concerns had first been raised by the former party treasurer, Douglas Chapman MP, who resigned from the role, claiming he did not have enough information to do the job.

SNP accounts from August 2021 showed the money was “earmarked” through internal processes, though they did not officially record a separate sum.

The former first minister’s arrest comes after her husband Peter Murrell was arrested in April.

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.

The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – began in 2021.