SNP boss Peter Murrell – Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – quits amid falling membership row
SNP boss Peter Murrell has quit the party amid a row over declining membership figures, as the race to succeed first minister Nicola Sturgeon enters its final week.
Scottish National Party (SNP) chief executive Peter Murrell resigned this weekend after reports of a threat of a no confidence vote by the National Executive Committee (NEC).
Candidates Kate Forbes and Ash Regan had raised concerns about election integrity while Humza Yousaf, seen as the favourite for the top job, dismissed these as “baseless smears”.
Recent polls suggest Forbes is ahead with Scots, while Yousaf has been seen as representing continuity.
It came after media chief Murray Foote quit on Friday following a row over the party’s membership numbers revealing the SNP had lost 30,000 members in just over a year.
The figures – which Foote previously branded “inaccurate” and “drivel” – emerged last week, after leadership candidates said the race was being undermined by the secrecy.
Membership fell from 103,884 in 2021 to 72,186, as of February this year.
Murrell, who is married to outgoing leader Sturgeon, said: “Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media queries about membership number lies with me as chief executive.
“While there was no intent to mislead, I accept this has been the outcome. I have therefore decided to confirm my intention to step down with immediate effect.”
He added: “I had not planned to confirm this decision until after the leadership election.
“However, as my future has become a distraction from the campaign I have concluded I should stand down now, so the party can focus fully on issues about Scotland’s future.”
Murrell has been in the role for 20 years, and Sturgeon told Sky News on Saturday he “was right to make that announcement today”.
She said her husband had “obviously taken responsibility for the recent issue with membership” and had “intended to step down when there was a new leader”.
SNP president Michael Russell, former party chief executive and Scottish government minister, will take over running the HQ until Murrell’s permanent replacement is hired.
The SNP’s finances are also under police investigation, after allegations of a missing £600,000 from its accounts and a £107,000 loan from Murrell was not properly declared.
Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said Murrell’s resignation was “long overdue” while Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said “the wheels have fallen off the SNP wagon”.