SNP responds to arrest of Peter Murrell as police search party headquarters

Police cordoned off an area outside their home before Mr Murrell was taken into police custody for questioning.

Searches of property are understood as part of an investigation. There is also a heavy police presence outside the SNP HQ in Edinburgh.

A spokesman for the party said its governing body, the National Executive Committee, NEC, met on Saturday and agreed to a “review of governance and transparency”.

“Clearly it would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing police investigation, but the SNP has fully cooperated with this investigation and will continue to do so.

“At its meeting on Saturday, the SNP’s governing body, the NEC, agreed to a governance and transparency review – which will be taken forward in the coming weeks,” the SNP spokesman said.

Mr Murrell, 58, who has been party leader since 1999, was the man responsible for the day-to-day running of the SNP, which was at one point the second largest party in the UK.

This job meant that Mr Murrell was one of the most influential figures in Scottish politics, although he was never an elected politician or figure much in front of the cameras.

However, he announced his resignation effective immediately on March 18, amid a dispute over the party’s membership numbers and transparency.

It comes nearly a quarter century after he replaced Michael Russell, the current SNP President, as party leader, who is now taking over his duties on a voluntary basis pending the recruitment of a permanent successor.

Previously, Mr Murrell worked in the constituency office of former SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond.

Mr Murrell married Ms Sturgeon, then Deputy Chair of the SNP and Deputy First Minister, in 2010, with Mr Salmond, then First Minister, among the guests.

Mr. Murrell is seen by many as a key player in changing the fortunes of the party and helping modernize the SNP’s operations.

While membership has fallen from its peak of around 125,000 in 2018 to the recently announced total of 72,186, the party remains the largest and most dominant political force in Scotland.

And with Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon at the helm, the SNP has consolidated its electoral dominance, having been in power in Holyrood since 2007 and winning every election north of the border since.

But critics of the SNP led by Ms Sturgeon, both inside and outside the party, have long questioned the appropriateness of filling the key roles of leader and chief executive officer by a pair. SNP responds to arrest of Peter Murrell as police search party headquarters

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