Nicola Sturgeon’s husband urged to step aside as SNP chief executive amid ‘missing’ £600,000


Nicola Sturgeon’s husband is facing calls to step down from his own role in the SNP, as the party faces a wider scandal over “missing” funds.

Peter Murrell, the party’s chief executive officer, is planning to stay in his role during the election of his wife’s successor.

However, one of the SNP’s own MPs at Westminster called on Mr Murrell to step aside on Wednesday and called for a “neutral caretaker CEO” to take his place.

Joanna Cherry, the MP for Edinburgh South West, wrote on Twitter:

The leadership contest comes in the midst of a financial row after the party raised £600,000 during two fundraising drives in 2017 and 2019, promising members the money would be “ringfenced” for a future referendum campaign.

Activists became concerned when Companies House accounts lodged in 2020 appeared to show the SNP only had £97,000 in the bank. It was subsequently forced to admit the £600,000 sum was not set aside.

A formal police investigation into allegations against the party is ongoing after seven complaints were made over the funds.

Police Scotland decided to launch a full inquiry after consulting with prosecutors, amid claims the cash had been fraudulently spent elsewhere. Ms Sturgeon had previously denied the money had “gone missing”.

Loan to ‘assist with cashflow’

Separately, Mr Murrell loaned the SNP a total of £107,620 in June 2021 to “assist with cashflow”, but this donation was not declared until last August.

Earlier this month, his wife was widely mocked after saying she “can’t recall” when she first learned he had made the donation.

Ms Sturgeon has instructed the SNP to begin the process for electing a new leader. She will remain in post until her successor is in place.

But Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador who went on to campaign for independence and is now a pro-Alex Salmond blogger, described Ms Sturgeon’s decision not to step aside immediately as “bad news”.

Mr Murray claimed her successor would be decided through an electronic voting process that was “absolutely non-transparent to candidates, and will be controlled by Peter Murrell”.

An SNP spokesman insisted on Wednesday that Mr Murrell would remain in his current position.