Former Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon arrested in financial investigation


LONDON (AP) — Nicola Sturgeon, a former leader of Scotland’s ruling Scottish Nationalist Party, has been arrested in connection with allegations of financial misconduct within the party.

Sturgeon became the latest high-profile party member to be questioned over allegations that 600,000 British pounds ($750,000) raised for the Scottish independence campaign was diverted elsewhere.

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

“The woman is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives,” the statement added.

A police spokesperson later confirmed to NBC News that “a Nicola Sturgeon…has been arrested.” She also gave a date of birth that corresponded with that of the former prime minister.

A spokesman for Sturgeon, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, also confirmed the arrest in a statement.

“Nicola Sturgeon, by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned in connection with Operation Branchform,” they said.

“Nicola has consistently said that she would cooperate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so,” they added.

Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, who served as SNP chief executive, was previously arrested in April, along with former party treasurer Colin Beattie. Both were released without charge pending further investigation.

Searches were also carried out at several properties, including the home of Sturgeon and Murrel, where a police tent was erected in the garden.

The arrest of Sturgeon, who resigned earlier this year, is likely to embarrass the SNP, which is campaigning to end Scotland’s three-century political union with England.

“These issues are subject to a live police investigation. The SNP has been fully cooperating with this investigation and will continue to do so, however it is not appropriate to publicly address any issues while the investigation is ongoing,” an SNP spokesperson said in a statement.

Sturgeon was the face of the Scottish independence movement for eight years until his abrupt resignation in February.

At the time, Scotland’s first female leader had said the decision to leave was “not a reaction to short-term pressure.” Research on the SNP began less than 8 weeks later.

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom but, like Wales and Northern Ireland, has its own semi-autonomous government with broad powers in areas including education and healthcare.

Sturgeon was known as a persuasive political leader who continued to build a broad base of support for Scottish independence despite the vote to remain part of the UK in 2014, and as a strong supporter of transgender rights.

In January, he introduced new legislation to make it easier for Scots to legally change their gender, which was later blocked by the UK parliament in London.

Sturgeon was succeeded by Humza Yousaf following an acrimonious leadership election, though his first months in office were overshadowed by the police investigation.

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