Everything We Know About Nicola Sturgeon’s Arrest

Former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was arrested early Sunday in connection with an ongoing probe into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP), according to Police Scotland.

Sturgeon was questioned by investigators for seven hours before she was later released without any charges pending further investigation, Police Scotland said in a statement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

“Nicola Sturgeon has today, Sunday 11th June, by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned,” a spokesperson for Sturgeon said, Reuters reported.

The investigation is looking into the funds of the SNP to which she was a leader until earlier this year when she was replaced by Humza Yousaf. Sturgeon’s arrest came a few months following her resignation from her position as first minister after being in office for eight years.

Everything We Know About Nicola Sturgeon's Arrest
Nicola Sturgeon, former first minister of Scotland, leaves her house on April 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Sturgeon was arrested early Sunday in connection with an ongoing probe into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP), according to Police Scotland.
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

An investigation was launched into the SNP nearly two years ago to find what happened to the funds totaling over £600,000 ($754,140) that activists donated to the SNP, BBC News reported on Sunday. The money was raised by Scottish independence campaigners for a future referendum campaign, but might have been used for other purposes, according to Reuters.

“The matter remains active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media,” Police Scotland added in its statement.

An SNP spokesperson told Newsweek on Sunday that the party has 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.”

Sturgeon broke her silence about her arrest and interrogation Sunday afternoon in a statement she posted to Twitter, asserting her innocence.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

She continued: “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.”

Meanwhile in April, officers searched Sturgeon’s house and the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh and arrested her husband Peter Murrell and the party’s then-treasurer Colin Beattie, who were both signatories on the party’s accounts. Both were released without charges after long hours of questioning, according to the BBC. Police also seized a luxury motorhome from outside Murrell’s mother’s house in Dunfermline.

Throughout the next steps in the SNP probe, investigators are expected to send a standard prosecution report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), which is the public prosecution body in Scotland.

If COPFS finds that the evidence in the probe is strong enough, the case will go to court, according to the BBC. The COPFS could also order investigators to continue their probe if they find the existing evidence to be insufficient. In addition, no further steps would be taken in the case if investigators failed to find enough evidence to justify a prosecution.

A spokesperson with the COPFS told Newsweek on Sunday in an email that senior professional prosecutors from COPFS and an Advocate Depute, also known as a prosecutor, are working with the police on the investigation.

“It is standard practice that any case regarding politicians is dealt with by prosecutors without the involvement of the Law Officers,” the spokesperson said. “All Scotland’s prosecutors act independently of political interference.”

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