An SNP MP who previously worked as a police officer has claimed it was highly unusual for a tent to be erected outside Nicola Sturgeon’s home when her husband was arrested as part of a fraud probe into the party’s finances.
Allan Dorans, who spent 15 years in the Metropolitan Police and rose to the level of detective inspector before entering politics, said he “never knew” of any occasions where a structure was assembled outside the home of a suspect accused of fraud.
His comments come just days after James Dornan, an SNP MSP, claimed that there appeared to have been “collusion” between the police and media in an attempt to maximise coverage of the arrest. Party leader Humsa rejected the suggestion.
Peter Murrell, who resigned as SNP chief executive in March, was arrested the following month over claims that money raised for a second independence referendum had been spent on other things.
When Mr Murrell was arrested, there was police activity at the home he shares with Mr Sturgeon in Glasgow and a tent was erected. The SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh was also searched.
“In my 15-year career as a police officer in the Metropolitan Police, I never knew any occasions where a tent was erected during the search of premises in relation to the investigation of a case of alleged financial crime,” Mr Dorans told The National, a pro-independence and SNP supporting newspaper.
Sir Iain Livingstone, Police Scotland chief constable, has previously defended the conduct of the force, saying earlier this month the probe has been “proportionate and necessary”.
The force first launched its investigation into potential criminality within the SNP’s fundraising in July 2021. It came after a formal complaint was filed in March that year by party activist Sean Clerkin, who alleged that around £666,953 in donations raised since 2017 for a second independence referendum campaign had been spent on other things, contrary to promises made to supporters.
Ms Sturgeon, who announced in February that she was standing down as Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader, has also been arrested in connection with the incident. She and Mr Murrell have both been released without charge pending further inquiries.
In a statement following her release from police custody, Ms Sturgeon said she was shocked and deeply distressed to have been arrested and insisted she was “innocent of any wrongdoing”.
Detectives working on the case seized a luxury campervan taken from a house in Fife at the same time police searched the SNP couple’s home when Mr Murrell was arrested.
The scandal has resulted in an incredibly difficult start to life for Mr Yousaf as successor to Ms Sturgeon, who he described as one of the best politicians in Europe in an interview on Sunday broadcast hours before her arrest was made made public.
He refused to suspend Ms Sturgeon from the party, saying he would only do so if she was found guilty of an offence.
And earlier this week he doubled down on his support for Ms Sturgeon, telling colleagues in Holyrood they should resign if they were not willing to fully back their former leader.