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Ex-Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon arrested by police

Scottish police have been investigating how $745,000 designated for a Scottish independence campaign was spent.
Former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Posted at 11:25 AM, Jun 11, 2023

Former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who dominated politics in Scotland for almost a decade, was arrested Sunday by police investigating the finances of the governing, pro-independence Scottish National Party.

Police Scotland said a 52-year-old woman was detained "as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party."

"The woman is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives," the force said, without naming Sturgeon. British police do not identify suspects until they are charged.

A spokesperson for Sturgeon said the former first minister voluntarily attended an interview with police and would cooperate with the force's investigation.

The SNP said the party had been "cooperating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so. However it is not appropriate to publicly address any issues while that investigation is ongoing."

Scottish police have been investigating how $745,000 designated for a Scottish independence campaign was spent.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon leaves post after 8 years

Sturgeon, the first female leader of Scotland, has led the nation since 2014, when Scots narrowly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

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Two former SNP officials, Colin Beattie, who was treasurer, and Peter Murrell, who was chief executive, were previously arrested and questioned as part of the investigation. Neither has been charged.

Murrell is Sturgeon's husband, and police searched the couple's home in Glasgow after his arrest in April.

Sturgeon unexpectedly resigned in February after eight years as Scottish National Party leader and first minister of Scotland's semi-autonomous government. She said that it was the right time for her, her party and her country to make way for someone else.

The first female leader of Scotland's devolved government, Sturgeon led her party to dominance in Scottish politics and refashioned the SNP from a largely one-issue party into a dominant governing force with liberal social positions.

She guided her party during three U.K.-wide elections and two Scottish elections, and led Scotland through the coronavirus pandemic, winning praise for her clear, measured communication style.

But Sturgeon left office amid divisions in the SNP and with her main goal — independence from the U.K. for the nation of 5.5 million people — unmet.

Scottish voters backed remaining in the U.K. in a 2014 referendum that was billed as a once-in-a-generation decision. The party wants a new vote, but the U.K. Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland can't hold one without London's consent. The central government has refused to authorize another referendum.

Sturgeon's departure unleashed a tussle for the future of the SNP amid recriminations over the party's declining membership and divisions over the best path towards independence.