London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Police waited two weeks for SNP search warrant

Police waited two weeks for SNP search warrant

Police had to wait two weeks before they were given permission to raid the home of Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell, it has emerged.

The Crown Office was told on 20 March that Police Scotland wanted a search warrant.

It was not until 3 April - a week after the SNP leadership contest ended - that the application for a warrant was approved by a sheriff.

Officers searched the home of the former first minister two days later.

Details were released by Police Scotland in response to a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) by the Scottish Conservatives that was first reported by the Scottish Sun.

Sources close to the inquiry have denied that there was an undue delay.

But opposition parties said the revelation would "raise eyebrows" and questioned the role of Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, who heads the Crown Office but is also a Scottish government minister.

A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: "In all matters, Scotland's prosecutors act independently of political pressure or interference."It is standard that any case regarding politicians is dealt with by prosecutors without the involvement of the Lord Advocate or Solicitor General."

BBC Scotland understands that a draft search warrant was submitted by the police which the fiscal then discussed with officers before its contents were finalised.

The warrant, which is reported to have included a long list of items the police wanted to seize, was then signed by a sheriff on the same day it was finished.

Mr Murrell, who had quit as the SNP's chief executive on 18 March, was arrested when officers investigating the party's finances arrived at the Glasgow home he shares with Ms Sturgeon early on the morning of 5 April.

Several boxes of evidence were removed from the SNP's headquarters in Edinburgh


Police spent two days searching the house, with several boxes of evidence being removed. Mr Murrell was released without charge pending further investigations.

The SNP's headquarters in Edinburgh was also searched on 5 April and a luxury motorhome that sells for about £110,000 was seized from outside the home of Mr Murrell's mother in Dunfermline.

Colin Beattie, who was the party's treasurer at the time, was arrested on 18 April before also being released without charge while further inquiries were carried out. He subsequently quit as treasurer.

The contest to succeed Ms Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister had ended on 27 March when Humza Yousaf, who was the party hierarchy's preferred candidate, narrowly defeated Kate Forbes.

Newspaper reports earlier this year claimed that some people within Police Scotland were frustrated by the direction they were being given by the Crown Office on the SNP investigation.

Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay told BBC Scotland: "There has been this continual sense of something not feeling quite right and of some frustration being expressed not by journalists, not by politicians, but by police officers and this latest revelation perhaps only feeds into that sense.

"From what I understand the Crown Office is suggesting this was perfectly regular and routine, but the entire investigation is so sensitive and is subject to a huge amount of speculation and the more transparency there is around it the better."


'Interesting revelation'


Mr Findlay said the case also raised "fundamental questions" about the role of the Lord Advocate, who heads the independent prosecution service while also sitting as a minister in Scottish government cabinet meetings.

He added: "It doesn't feel appropriate. And that separation needs to happen."

Jackie Baillie, the deputy leader of Scottish Labour, said the two-week delay was a "very interesting revelation that will lead to raised eyebrows across Scotland".

She added: "While I accept that the Lord Advocate may not have had a direct influence on the timing, this story underlines why we need to have a serious discussion about separating the role of the Lord Advocate to ensure that no perception of conflict of interest can ever occur."

Police launched their Operation Branchform investigation almost two years ago after receiving complaints about how a total of £666,953 donated to the SNP by activists was used.

The party pledged to spend the funds on a future independence referendum. Questions were raised after its accounts showed it had just under £97,000 in the bank at the end of 2019, and total net assets of about £272,000.

Last year it emerged Mr Murrell gave a loan of more than £100,000 to the SNP to help it out with a "cash flow" issue after the last election.

The party had repaid about half of the money by October of that year. It still owes money to its former chief executive, but has not said how much.

Ms Sturgeon has previously said the police investigation played no part in her decision to announce on 15 February that she was standing down as SNP leader and first minister.

She also said the first she knew that the police wanted to search her home and arrest her husband was when detectives arrived on her doorstep.

She added: "There are many questions that I would want to be able to answer and in the fullness of time I hope I will answer, but it would be wrong and inappropriate for me to go into any detail of what the police are currently investigating."

Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
Homeless Man Turns in Wallet with 2,000 Euros at Amsterdam Station
Apple Faces EU Charges Over Digital Markets Act Violation
Macron Warns of Civil War Risk as French Elections Approach
Julian Assange Freed After US Plea Deal
Chaotic Portugal Win Over Turkey at Euro 2024
Global Headlines: Hajj Heatwave Tragedy, Flynn's Family Enterprise, and Rising Geopolitical Tensions
Political Shifts in France, Legal Battles in the UK, and Public Protests in Israel
UK's Richest Family Convicted for Exploiting Servants
Hollande Declares End to Macron’s Political Ascendancy
Hindujas Appeal Swiss Court's Human Trafficking Verdict
Prince William Celebrates Birthday at Taylor Swift Concert
Singapore to Implement Screen Time Regulations for Children
Hello and welcome back. Here we are with your latest news update from around the world.
Hello and welcome back. Here are today's top stories from around the world, you don't want to miss:
UK PM Sunak and the Election Betting Scandal
Climate Activists Target Taylor Swift's Private Jet in UK
United States Bans Kaspersky Antivirus
US to Supply Taiwan with Suicide Drones Amid Rising Tensions with China
Bodyguard of UK Prime Minister Arrested for Alleged Election Betting
Global Displacement Crisis: Record Numbers in 2023
Muslim Community Leader Criticizes Nigel Farage for Undermining Muslims
Melinda Gates Discusses 'Horrible' Divorce from Bill Gates
Child Obesity Surge in England: A Deep Concern
U.S. Sues Adobe Over Hard-to-Cancel Subscriptions
Deadly Heat Wave Claims Dozens of Lives During Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca
Here are today's top worldwide stories you don’t want to miss:.
World’s Largest Pilot Union Calls to Eliminate Terms Like ‘Cockpit’ and ‘Manpower’ for Equity
Woman Suing UK Intel Services Denies China Spy Allegations
Iran Sentences Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi to 1-Year Prison Term for Propaganda
News roundup
Good day, everyone! We've got some gripping stories for you today, spanning from the Middle East to Europe, and even a touch of Hollywood.
Britain’s Refugee Visa Rules Stranding Children in War Zones
UK Elections Predict ‘Electoral Extinction’ for PM Sunak’s Conservative Party
Italian Activist Ilaria Salis Returns Home After Election to European Parliament
Good morning!
England Faces Serbia in Euro Opener with Defensive Concerns
Dermatologist Warns Against Sunbed Usage
Fake Pro-Reform UK Social Accounts and Their Influence on Elections
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
×