Ex-Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon arrested in financial probe

Former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
(Image credit: Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Nicola Sturgeon, the former first minister of Scotland, was arrested Sunday as part of a law enforcement investigation into the finances of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), officials said.

Police Scotland, the Scottish national police force, confirmed in a statement that a "52-year-old woman ... has been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party." The woman was "in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives," Police Scotland added.

While officials in the United Kingdom don't name suspects until they are charged, BBC News identified the arrestee as Sturgeon, and her spokesperson later said she had "attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned."

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"Nicola has consistently said she would cooperate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so," the spokesperson added.

Sturgeon took over as first minister and leader of the SNP in 2014, and was seen as a dominating force in politics, becoming one of the strongest proponents of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. However, she shocked the country this past February when she announced her resignation as first minister, saying she knew "in my head and in my heart" that it was time to step down.

Her arrest is part of Operation Branchform, an investigation into "allegations that the [SNP] misspent more than £600,000 [$750,000] in donations for an independence campaign," The Guardian reported. Sturgeon's arrest comes a little more than two months after her husband, former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, was also arrested in relation to the investigation.

Murrell was interviewed for 12 hours before being released without charge, The Guardian reported. Police also searched Sturgeon and Murrell's home and the SNP headquarters, in addition to arresting the party's treasurer, Colin Beattie, who was also released without charge.

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.