A police investigation into the finances of the ruling, pro-independence Scottish National Party resulted in the detention and lengthy interrogation of former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Sunday.
A 52-year-old lady was taken into custody early on Sunday, according to Police Scotland, “as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.”
A little over six hours later, according to the police, she was “released without charge pending further investigation.” Until they are charged, suspects are not identified by British police.
After her release, Nicola Sturgeon stated that her detention had been “both a shock and deeply distressing.”
She sent a post on social media with the comment, “Obviously, given the nature of this process, I cannot go into detail.” But I do want to say something, and I mean it the greatest way I can. I am not just entitled to the presumption of innocence under the law. I am positive beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have done nothing wrong.
The SNP claimed that the group had “cooperated fully with this investigation and will do so going forward.” While that inquiry is ongoing, it is not acceptable to raise any issues in public.
In 2021, Scottish police launched an inquiry into the use of $754,00 in funds allocated for a campaign for Scottish independence.
Colin Beattie, who served as treasurer of the SNP, and Peter Murrell, who served as chief executive, were previously detained and interrogated as part of the investigation. Both were granted bail pending additional investigations, just like Sturgeon.
Police raided Nicola Sturgeon and Murrell’s Glasgow house after Murrell was arrested in April.
Being arrested as the current or former leader of a political party in the UK is extremely uncommon. The most recent instance of this involved the Scottish Nationalists as well: Alex Salmond, who served as first minister before Nicola Sturgeon, was detained in 2019 and accused of a number of sexual charges, including attempted rape. After a trial in January 2020, he was found not guilty of all 13 charges.
Prior to that, in 1979, Jeremy Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal party, was put on trial for conspiracy and inciting murder. When homosexuality was still prohibited, the guy he was accused of trying to kill said they had a sexual relationship. Thorpe refuted his claim and was found not guilty.
After eight years as the first minister of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon abruptly announced her resignation in February. She remarked at the time that she understood “in my head and in my heart” that the moment had come for her, her party, and her nation to make room for someone else.
Sturgeon, the first female head of Scotland’s devolved government, transformed the SNP from a primarily one-issue party into a powerful governing force with liberal social values. She also guided her party to dominance in Scottish politics.
She led her party through two Scottish elections, three United Kingdom elections, and the coronavirus pandemic while receiving accolades for her measured, clear communication.
However, Nicola Sturgeon departed power amid dissension within the SNP and with her major objective — independence from the United Kingdom for the 5.5 million-person country — unfulfilled.
In a 2014 referendum described as a once-in-a-generation choice, Scottish voters supported staying in the United Kingdom. The U.K. Supreme Court has decided that Scotland cannot hold a new vote without London’s permission, despite the party’s requests for one. Another referendum has been forbidden by the federal government.
Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation sparked a fight over the SNP’s future amid accusations about the party’s dwindling membership and disagreements over the best course for independence. Despite still being the most popular party in Scotland, opinion polls indicate that support for the party has declined.
Candidates for her leadership position quarreled about strategy and Sturgeon’s accomplishments, particularly a measure she presented to make it simpler for people to legally alter their gender.
Transgender rights advocates lauded it as a groundbreaking piece of legislation, while other SNP members objected, saying it disregarded the need to safeguard women’s single-sex spaces.
Prior to Nicola Sturgeon’s detention, First Minister Humza Yousaf, who won the March party election, told the BBC that the SNP had experienced “some of the most difficult weeks our party has probably faced, certainly in the modern era.”
“I know there will be people, whether it be our opposition, whether it be the media, that have somehow written the SNP off already,” he remarked. They act that way at their own risk.