On Sunday, police arrested and questioned Nicola Sturgeon for seven hours after she voluntarily responded to the authorities’ request to visit the station. Her questioning was part of a larger, ongoing investigation aimed at the “funding and finances of the Scottish National Party” (SNP), with embezzlement accusations tied to the gambling scene in the country.
The former 52-year-old leader who resigned in February walked out of the police station with zero charges. The original report issued by the police did not mention the identity of the suspect connected to the investigation. Later on, Sturgeon’s identity was officially confirmed.
Sturgeon, Shocked About the “Latest Development”
The ex-leader used her Twitter account to say she was certain she had not committed any offense while describing the experience as “both a shock and deeply distressing”. Sturgeon also thanked her supporters who continue to show faith in her and appreciate the fact that she would “never do anything to harm either the SPN or the country.”
“I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing,” added the ex-first minister who was replaced by Humza Yousaf, while explaining that she would be taking a couple of days off to process the latest development.
At the start of the investigation into the political party’s alleged financial misconduct, Sturgeon did not represent a person of interest and the police also didn’t expect her to be one. However, she did issue a statement expressing her willingness to help investigators in any way possible. While she was released without any charges, her arrest on Sunday might be an indicator that the police have reason to suspect there is more to her story.
Where Did £600,000 Go?
The main goal of the investigation is to determine where the £600,000 ($755,340) collected by the SNP as a means of financing a potential referendum on Scotland’s independence actually went.
A number of media outlets have claimed that investigators are actually trying to find out the origin of at least £400,000 ($503,560) of the respective sum. Allegedly, the money was not declared to the Electoral Commission when they were collected and the SNP only revealed the financial support it had received long after the contribution was made, according to Daily Record.
A few months earlier, in April, police arrested then released Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, as part of the same gambling-related embezzlement investigation. Murrell then faced accusations of having lent his own money to finance the same political party, allegedly giving over £107,000 ($134,702) in June 2021 with the purpose of cleaning up SNP’s finances after the last election.
SNP claimed the “personal contribution” had already been repaid to Murrell who was also released with zero charges in just a few hours after the arrest. Almost two weeks later, police arrested the SNP’s treasurer, Colin Beattie, with a similar zero-charges release.
The investigation is also looking into the party’s alleged connection to the online gambling world in Scotland. This comes as a result of Murrell’s website created with the purpose of raising money for the country’s independence referendum started to show signs of affiliation with a gambling operator in March.
According to feedback received by GambleAware on its Gambling Support Service program, stigma continues to be an important barrier stopping problem gamblers from seeking help in Scotland.