Nicola Sturgeon’s Husband Is Charged in Party Finance Inquiry

Peter Murrell, the husband of Scotland’s former first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was charged on Thursday in connection with embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party, which she once led and where he once held a senior position.

The announcement, which follows a lengthy inquiry by the Scottish police, is another blow to the party, which controls the Scottish government and campaigns for independence. The party was thrown into turmoil after Ms. Sturgeon’s surprise resignation last year.

After her departure as first minister, Ms. Sturgeon was also arrested as part of the investigation into her party’s finances, but she was released and has not been charged.

Mr. Murrell, 59, who has been married to Ms. Sturgeon since 2010, became the S.N.P.’s chief executive in 1999 and resigned from the role in February 2023.

Police Scotland said in a statement that it had charged a 59-year-old man “in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party.”

He was arrested at 9:13 a.m. and charged at 6:35 p.m. after questioning by detectives, the police said, adding, “The man is no longer in police custody.”

The police first began an investigation into the S.N.P.’s finances in July 2021 after questions about the use of more than 600,000 pounds — now about $745,000 — in donations given to the party to campaign for Scottish independence.

Mr. Murrell was first arrested and questioned in April 2023, but after 11 hours the police released him “without charge pending further investigation.”

After that arrest, the British news media reported that the police had seized a luxury motor home parked outside his mother’s house. At the time, Ms. Sturgeon’s successor as first minister, Humza Yousaf, confirmed to reporters that the party had bought the vehicle — to use as a mobile office for campaigns, officials told local news outlets — but said that he learned about the purchase only after he became leader.

The investigation has cast a cloud over the party, which has struggled since Mr. Yousaf took over the leadership. The S.N.P. has dominated Scottish politics in recent years, and Ms. Sturgeon won a reputation as an effective communicator and a formidable, if sometimes divisive, politician.

But while the S.N.P. remains the most popular party in Scotland according to many opinion polls, Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has been advancing strongly, and a British general election is expected in the fall.

In a 2014 referendum, Scots voted by 55 percent to 45 percent against independence. Scotland’s constitutional future remains a live issue, but prospects of another vote soon on the question have faded.

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