Investigation into SNP not the reason for Sturgeon’s resignation, says Yousaf

Scotland’s First Minister has said he does not believe the investigation into the SNP’s finances was the reason for his predecessor’s resignation.

Nicola Sturgeon made the shocking announcement in February that she would stand down as first minister and SNP leader after eight years in charge.

After just over a week out of office, Ms Sturgeon’s husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell has been arrested as a result of an investigation into the party’s finances.

Ms Sturgeon spoke of the “physical and mental impact” of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for her stepping down, but refused to say when asked if the investigation had also been factored into her decision.

“I think anybody who watched her over the course of the pandemic during those daily briefings, day after day, I think anybody could understand how exhausting that is.

“So, no, I don’t think (Peter Murrell’s arrest) is the reason why Nicola Sturgeon stood down.”

Asked if the former first minister’s legacy had been damaged by the arrest, Mr Yousaf defended her, saying: “Nicola’s legacy stands on its own.

“Nicola’s legacy, whether it’s in relation to care-experienced young people and keeping The Promise, whether it’s on tackling child poverty, there are many legacies she can stand on, and I think that’s what she’ll be judged on.”

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon announced in February her intention to step down as first minister (Jane Barlow/PA)

His leadership, he said, offered up a chance for the party to “make sure we’re being transparent”.

With a potential by-election on the horizon in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, and a general election likely to take place next year, Mr Yousaf said the arrest “certainly doesn’t do us any good” with the general public.

“People will have questions, there will be some concerns,” he said.

“Our party membership will have concerns too.

“What I can commit to as party leader is that we want to be absolutely transparent.”

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