LONDON (AP) – Former Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who dominated politics in Scotland for almost a decade, was arrested on Sunday by police investigating the finances of the ruling, pro-independence Scottish National Party.
Police Scotland said a 52-year-old woman had been arrested “as a suspect in connection with the ongoing inquiry into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party”.
“The woman is in custody and is being questioned by Scottish Police detectives,” police said without naming Sturgeon. British police do not identify suspects until charges are brought against them.
A spokesman for Sturgeon said the former First Secretary voluntarily took part in an interview with police and would be cooperating with the police investigation.
The SNP said the party has “fully cooperated with this investigation and will continue to do so.” However, it is inappropriate to publicly raise any issues while the investigation is ongoing.”
Scottish police have been investigating how £600,000 ($745,000) earmarked for a Scottish independence campaign was spent.
Two former SNP officials, Colin Beattie, who was treasurer, and Peter Murrell, the chief executive, had previously been arrested and questioned as part of the investigation. Neither was collected.
Murrell is Sturgeon’s husbandand police searched the couple’s Glasgow home after his arrest in April.
sturgeon unexpectedly resigned in February after eight years as leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government. She said it was the right time for her, her party and her country to make room for someone else.
Sturgeon, the first female leader of Scotland’s devolved government, led her party to dominance in Scottish politics, transforming the SNP from a largely single-issue party into a dominant government force with liberal societal positions.
She has led her party in three UK elections and two Scottish elections, leading Scotland through the coronavirus pandemic, earning praise for her clear, measured style of communication.
But Sturgeon has resigned from office amid divisions in the SNP and unmatched with its main goal – the independence of the country of 5.5 million people from the UK.
Scottish voters voted to remain in the UK in a 2014 referendum in what was billed as a one-off decision. The party wants a new vote, but the UK Supreme Court has ruled Scotland cannot hold one without London’s consent. The central government refused to authorize another referendum.
Sturgeon’s departure sparked a dispute over the future of the SNP, which has seen allegations of the party’s declining membership and disagreements over the best path to independence.