Nicola Sturgeon has been released without charge pending further investigation following her arrest in the police investigation into the SNP’s finances.
The former SNP leader and first minister was arrested on Sunday and taken into custody “by arrangement” with Police Scotland, where she was questioned by detectives.
In a statement, Sturgeon said the experience was “deeply distressing”. She wrote: “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.”
Earlier today the force said: “A 52-year-old woman has today (Sunday, June 11) been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.”
Sturgeon, “by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned in relation to Operation Branchform”, a spokeswoman for the ex-first minister said.
“She has consistently said she would co-operate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so,” she said.
The former first minister’s arrest comes after her husband Peter Murrell was arrested in April.
Murrell and MSP Colin Beattie, who was SNP treasurer at the time, were both released without charge pending further inquiry.
As well as the arrests, searches were carried out at a number of properties, including Murrell and Sturgeon’s home – where a police tent was erected in the garden – and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.
The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – began in 2021. It was opened after allegations £600,000 raised for campaigning towards Scottish independence was diverted elsewhere.
Sturgeon announced her resignation as first minister in February this year, saying it was not related to short-term pressures but because she knew in her “head and heart” the time was right to go.
Her husband stepped down as party chief executive during the leadership contest that followed.
Humza Yousaf succeeded Sturgeon, who continues to be the MSP for Glasgow Southside, as SNP leader and First Minister.
The SNP’s governing body, the national executive committee, agreed that a review of transparency and governance in the party should take place.
Beattie was arrested and interviewed later in April.
Following Sturgeon’s arrest, an SNP spokeswoman said: “These issues are subject to a live police investigation.
“The SNP have been co-operating 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.”
Rival parties also commented on the arrest, with Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray saying: “This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s fair to say that today’s events will have huge ramifications both for the SNP and the future of Scottish politics.”
Police Scotland said Sturgeon was arrested at 10.09am and was released from custody at 5.24pm. She has said she intends to be back in Parliament “soon” and to continue to represent her constituents.
A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.