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Scotland’s ex-leader Nicola Sturgeon released without charge after arrest in party finance probe

<i>Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images/Getty Images</i><br/>First Minister Nicola Sturgeon answers questions from the floor after delivering a speech to the RSA Fellowship in her final public event as Scottish First Minister
Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images/Getty Images
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon answers questions from the floor after delivering a speech to the RSA Fellowship in her final public event as Scottish First Minister

By Max Foster, Radina Gigova and Rob Picheta, CNN

(CNN) — Scotland’s former first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been released without a charge after she was arrested by police earlier Sunday, as part of an investigation into financial irregularities by the Scottish National Party (SNP), according to UK’s PA Media.

“A 52-year-old woman who was arrested earlier today, Sunday, 11 June, 2023, as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation,” Police Scotland said in an updated statement Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Sturgeon earlier confirmed the arrest and told PA Media “Nicola has consistently said she would co-operate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so.”

Sturgeon’s husband and former SNP chief executive, Peter Murrell, was arrested and released earlier this month, followed by the group’s treasurer, Colin Beattie, and officers have raided the party’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

Sturgeon abruptly announced her resignation as first minister in February after a nine-year stint in which she became the figurehead of the movement for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom.

She cited the demands of public life and the “brutality” of frontline politics for her surprise decision.

But since standing down, the party she led for almost a decade has descended into chaos amid a widely publicized police investigation. Officers have been probing the SNP’s handling of money that was slated for Scottish independence campaigning, according to PA Media.

The group has dominated politics north of the border for more than a decade and has pushed for a repeat of a 2014 referendum on independence, in which voters rejected the chance to split from the UK by 55% to 45%.

Sturgeon enjoyed a series of significant electoral wins in Scotland, which has a devolved government that the SNP has led since 2007.

But momentum behind the push for independence which Sturgeon fronted has stalled in recent months, with polling showing dips in support and the Supreme Court blocking her effort last year to unilaterally call a referendum without the backing of Westminster.

Sturgeon was replaced as leader this year when Humza Yousaf narrowly won a bitter leadership election that exposed divisions within the party.

The chaos and legal questions surrounding the party could put its stranglehold on Scottish politics at risk, with the pro-union Labour Party eying a resurgence in the nation.

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