Former leader of Scotland is arrested

June 12, 2023
Robert Ayers

The New York Times reports that Nicola Sturgeon, the former first minister of Scotland, was arrested on Sunday. 

It appears that the arrest has to do with an ongoing investigation into the finances of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).

The leftist SNP is the ruling political party of Scotland, and Sturgeon led the party until this past February when she unexpectedly resigned.

A central goal of the SNP is to achieve independence for Scotland.

"Operation Branchform"

Police Scotland put out a statement on Sunday indicating that "a 52-year-old woman” had “been arrested as a suspect in connection with the continuing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party."

Further specifics were not provided by Police Scotland. But, a statement was released on behalf of Sturgeon, which read:

Nicola Sturgeon has today, Sunday 11th June, by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned in relation to Operation Branchform. Nicola has consistently said she would cooperate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so.

"Operation Branchform" has been ongoing since 2021. It began after complaints about the handling of $750,000 in donations that were raised for a vote on Scottish independence.

According to the Times, one of the chief questions that investigators are asking is whether this money was diverted and used for a different purpose.

Peter Murrell, Sturgeon's husband and the former chief executive, and Colin Beattie, the former treasurer of the SNP, were arrested in April as part of this investigation.

She's been released

Murrell and Beattie, following their arrest, were both released after questioning. Neither individual was charged with a crime.

It appears that it is the same story for Sturgeon: she was questioned and released without being charged with a crime.

After her release, Sturgeon published a message on Twitter in which she professed her innocence.

She wrote:

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. 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.

It is unclear where authorities are in Operation Branchform. But, the Times reports:

Recent events have cast a cloud not only over the S.N.P., whose poll ratings dipped after the party’s funding crisis intensified, but also over its objective of achieving independence for Scotland.

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