- Police Scotland say questioning the man
- BBC suspect as former SNP CEO Peter Morrell
- The police car is seen outside the couple’s home
- SNP leader Yusuf says the news is ‘difficult’
GLASGOW (Reuters) – The husband of former Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested as part of an investigation into the financing of the ruling pro-independence Scottish National Party, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Police Scotland said a 58-year-old man had been “arrested as a suspect” and that its officers were carrying out searches at a number of addresses linked to the investigation.
The BBC said Peter Morell, 58, who resigned as chief executive of the ruling pro-independence party last month, was taken into police custody on Wednesday morning.
Police Scotland said it was carrying out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation. A police car was seen markings outside the couple’s home in Glasgow, it was sealed off with blue and white police tape, and a blue tent was erected outside.
“The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Detectives Scotland,” the force added.
A police investigation is looking into what happened to more than 600,000 pounds ($748,920) raised by Scottish independence activists in 2017, which should have been locked up for spending on the cause but was missing from the party accounts.
The SNP said it would not be appropriate to comment on any direct police investigation but that the party was cooperating with the investigation. The Scottish government said it was about the party.
Speaking to reporters after the news broke, Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Hamza Yusuf called the development “difficult” and said he wanted to reassure SNP members about issues of transparency and party funding.
“The news this morning is tough, tough,” he said.
The arrest and ongoing investigation comes after a grueling few months for the Scottish National Party, which has dominated Scottish politics for most of the past two decades.
Morrell, who ran the SNP for more than two decades, resigned last month after accepting blame for misleading the public about the party’s declining membership.
Sturgeon also resigned as leader of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government last month after eight years in power, saying it had become too divided to lead the nation towards independence.
Her successor, Yusuf, narrowly won a bitterly fought leadership contest that exposed deep divisions over how to achieve independence and other political issues.
The SNP said its board had agreed at a meeting on Saturday to review the party’s governance and transparency, which will be taken forward in the coming weeks.
In a 2014 referendum, the Scots refused to end the more than 300-year-old union with England by 55% to 45%. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union two years later when a majority of Scots wanted to stay, and Scotland’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has led to fresh support for independence.
($1 = 0.8012 pounds)
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Michael Holden and Connor Humphreys
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