Police Scotland’s chief constable: SNP finance probe heading to prosecutors ‘within weeks’ | UK News

The police investigation involving Nicola Sturgeon’s husband is “moving on” with prosecutors to receive a file within weeks, Scotland’s most senior officer has told Sky News.

The former first minister and SNP leader’s spouse, Peter Murrell, has been charged in connection with embezzlement of party funds.

In her first interviews since taking on the UK’s second biggest police force, Chief Constable Jo Farrell insisted her officers are “objective” but refused to be drawn on whether the long-running probe will end imminently.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Branchform, was launched in July 2021 after officers received complaints about how SNP donations were used.

There were questions about more than £660,000 raised for a second Scottish independence referendum campaign.

Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell, who were both arrested as part of Police Scotland’s Operation Branchform. Pic: PA

Police Scotland has said Nicola Sturgeon remains under investigation after she was arrested and released without charge in 2023.

The SNP’s former treasurer, Colin Beattie, was also detained for almost 12 hours for questioning in spring last year.

The 72-year-old has told Sky News he had heard “nothing at all” from police recently.

Murrell, 59, was chief executive of the SNP for two decades.

He quit the role weeks before his arrest and resigned his SNP membership in the wake of his police charge.

The probe has involved detectives seizing a £100,000 motorhome from outside the home of one of Murrell’s elderly relatives.

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Officers concluded in April there is sufficient evidence to charge Murrell in connection with embezzlement of party funds.

The next stage is for Scotland’s prosecution service, the Crown Office, to receive a report on the case from police and decide whether to proceed to court.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “All (of) Scotland’s prosecutors act independently of political interference.

“As is routine, to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, we do not comment in detail on their conduct.”

Chief Con Farrell was questioned by Sky News about why the investigation was taking so long to conclude.

Jo Farrell, Police Scotland's chief constable
Jo Farrell, Police Scotland’s chief constable

She said: “It’s a live investigation, complex investigation and the matter has been progressed, and we expect the report to go to the Crown Office in a matter of weeks.”

Asked about this probe continuing in a general election year, she said: “We’ve investigated allegations. That’s moving on.

“We have very skilled, professional, objective individuals working on that case.”

The senior officer refused to say when the SNP probe would be fully concluded or whether other individuals would face further questions.

“I’m not going to make a commentary on the length of it. One person’s been charged, the report will go to the Crown Office and it’s a live investigation,” she said.

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Ms Sturgeon unexpectedly announced her resignation as SNP leader and first minister of Scotland months before police arrested her and her husband.

She has always insisted the probe never played any part in her sudden departure from office.


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