Glasgow, United Kingdom:
Scotland’s former leader Nicola Sturgeon insisted on Sunday she had done nothing wrong after police arrested her as part of an investigation into the finances of the country’s ruling party.
Detectives questioned the former leader for about seven hours as part of the “Operation Branchform” investigation into the finances of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland’s dominant political force.
She was later released pending further inquiries, Scotland police said.
“To find myself in the situation I found myself in today, when I feel confident that I did not commit an offense, is both shocking and deeply distressing,” Sturgeon wrote in a statement posted on Twitter following her release.
“I would never do anything that would hurt the SNP or the country,” she added.
Given the ongoing investigation, there was a limit to what she could say, she said.
But she insisted: “Innocence is not just a presumption to which I am entitled under the law. I know beyond any doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.”
A statement from Police Scotland earlier Sunday said: “A 52-year-old woman who was arrested earlier today as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party has been released without charge.”
Her arrest is the third in the investigation that has sent shockwaves through Scottish politics.
The brewing scandal has plunged the SNP into deep crisis and damaged its dream of an independent Scotland.
The Scottish Labor shadow secretary Ian Murray reacted to the latest news by saying: “For too long a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It is fair to say that today’s events will have huge implications for both the SNP and the future of Scottish politics.”
Questions about financing
Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, the former CEO of the SNP, was arrested in April as part of the investigation.
At the time, police raided the Glasgow home shared by the couple, set up a tent at the crime scene in the front garden and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.
Murrell has long faced questions over the alleged diversion of £600,000 ($750,000) in SNP donations intended to support his push for Scottish independence.
He also failed to declare a personal loan to the party in excess of £100,000.
Party treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested in April.
Sturgeon made her last appearance as First Minister in the Scottish Parliament in March.
After more than eight years at the helm, Sturgeon said in February that she didn’t have the “energy” to continue and stepped down.
But the police investigation into Murrell, whom she married in 2010, had been a cloud over her head.
Murrell resigned as leader of the SNP in March after the party falsely denied to the media that it had lost 30,000 members.
The revelation came as the SNP held a bitter election to replace Sturgeon as party leader and Scotland’s First Minister, eventually winning by Humza Yousaf.
Yousaf denied that Sturgeon had dropped out knowing the police investigation would hit dangerously close to home.
“Nicola’s legacy stands alone,” he said.
After Murrell’s arrest, Yousaf said: “Obviously it’s not great, and I think the sooner we can come to a conclusion in this police investigation the better.
“I’ve never been an office holder in the party, I’ve had no part in party finances,” he added.
Recent surveys show that only about 45 per cent of Scots are in favor of their country leaving the UK – the same minority recorded in a 2014 referendum, which London insists has resolved the issue for a generation.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)