NICOLA STURGEON has said she knows ‘beyond doubt’ that she is innocent after being released without charge by police investigating funding and finances within the Scottish National Party (SNP).
The former First Minister of Scotland was arrested on Sunday morning as part of Operation Branchform.
The probe was launched in 2021 following complaints that more than £660,000 raised for a future Scottish independence referendum campaign was in part improperly spent by the party.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Police Scotland confirmed it had released to former SNP leader without charge pending further investigation.
Speaking after her release, Ms Sturgeon said the experience had been ‘deeply distressing’.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“I know that this ongoing investigation is difficult for people, and I am grateful that so many continue to show faith in me and appreciate that I would never do anything to harm either the SNP or the country.
“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.”
In a statement, Police Scotland confirmed Sunday’s developments were part of Operation Branchform .
“A 52-year-old woman who was arrested earlier today, Sunday, June 11, 2023, as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation,” read the statement.
“The woman was questioned by Police Scotland detectives after she was arrested at 10.09am. She was released from custody at 5.24pm.”
It added that a report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and that as the investigation is ongoing they were unable to comment further.
Today’s developments follow the arrest in April of Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, the SNP’s former CEO, as well as Colin Beattie, then the party’s Treasurer.
Both men were also later released without charge.
Ms Sturgeon, who continues to represent Glasgow Southside as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, thanked those who have stood by her during a ‘difficult’ period.
“To the many people who have sent messages of support over these past difficult weeks — including since today’s news broke — thank you for your kindness,” she added in her statement.
“Thank you also to my close circle of family and friends who are giving me much-needed strength at this time.
“Finally, while I will take a day or two to process this latest development, I intend to be back in Parliament soon where I will continue to represent my Glasgow Southside constituents to the very best of my ability.”
Ms Sturgeon resigned as First Minister and leader of the SNP in March, having succeeded Alex Salmond in both roles in November 2014.