In Scotland, the arrest of former Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon weakens the separatists

The information was not really a surprise, but it was still shocking in Scotland: the former Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was arrested by the police on Sunday morning June 11 and released after seven hours, without however have been charged.

The ex-leader, a passionate lawyer for independence, much admired for her charisma and the empathy she had shown during the Covid-19 pandemic, was questioned as part of an investigation into the finances of her training. independentist, the Scottish National Party (SNP).

It has now been two years since the Scottish police launched Operation Branchform to find out what happened to the approximately 600,000 pounds sterling (700,000 euros) that had been paid to the SNP by supporters of independence.

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Following the failed referendum of 2014 (55.3% of voters chose to remain within the United Kingdom), the party appealed for donations to finance the campaign for a second referendum. But the latter has still not taken place – and will not be organized in the near future. However, the money seems to have evaporated.

A “shocking and distressing” experience

Before Nicola Sturgeon, it was her husband, Peter Murrell, who was arrested by the police in early April as part of the same investigation and released, like her, without charge after a few hours. At the time, the police had transformed the couple’s pavilion, in the suburbs of Glasgow, into the real scene of this crime, with tent, cords and officers in full suits methodically searching the scene. The headquarters of the SNP had also been raided and the police had also seized a brand new mobile home, parked at Mr Murrell’s mother’s house, which was allegedly bought with party money.

Fifteen days later, the SNP treasurer, Colin Beattie, was in turn arrested and released without charges the same day. Nicola Sturgeon being one of the three people authorized to sign the accounts of the party with Mr. Beattie and her husband, her arrest was therefore foreseeable. Reacting on Twitter after leaving the police station on Sunday evening, she described the experience as “shocking and deeply distressing”, but assured “to be convinced of being innocent of any wrongdoing”.

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There is no indication that the police are investigating personal enrichment: so far they have refrained from commenting. Nicola Sturgeon resigned abruptly in February, citing her desire to do something other than politics. Her critics now suspect that she feared being caught up in the police investigation – she denies it. The setbacks of the former Prime Minister in any case splash the image of the SNP, which willingly put forward a reputation for probity to better denounce the supposed turpitudes of the British Conservative Party.

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