Nicola Sturgeon has pulled out of a climate change event due to take place on Thursday as police continue to investigate the SNP’s funding and finances.
The former first minister had been due to take part in a conversation with Mexican diplomat Patricia Espinosa, former chair of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Edinburgh Science Festival.
However, the Glasgow Southside MSP will instead be replaced by Mairi McAllan, the cabinet secretary for net zero and just transition, after her husband, Peter Murrell, was arrested and later released without charge amid a police investigation.
Police remain outside Nicola Sturgeon’s home after husband’s arrest
A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said: “In order to keep the focus of this event on the critical issue of the climate emergency and Ambassador Patricia Espinosa’s contribution, Nicola Sturgeon has made the decision not to participate this evening.
“She is grateful to the festival and Ambassador Espinosa for their understanding, and to Mairi McAllan for taking her place.”
Police Scotland and the Crown Office have been investigating the SNP’s finances.
The long-running probe is linked to the spending of around £600,000 raised by supporters to be earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning.
It is understood there have been complaints the ringfenced cash has been used improperly by being spent elsewhere.
Murrell was arrested by police on Wednesday as part of the investigation. He was taken into custody to be questioned by detectives before later being released without charge.
Following Murrell’s arrest, police officers were spotted carrying out a number of searches.
Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s home in Glasgow was taped off and a police tent was erected outside.
A small shed and storage box in the back garden was searched while a police photographer took pictures at the scene.
Officers were also seen removing boxes from SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.
Police were again stationed outside Ms Sturgeon and Murrell’s house on Thursday as the probe continues.
The SNP said it has been “cooperating fully” with the investigation and would “continue to do so”.
A spokesperson for the party added: “At its meeting on Saturday, the governing body of the SNP, the NEC, agreed to a review of governance and transparency – that will be taken forward in the coming weeks.”
Murrell arrested in connection with SNP funding and finances investigation
Ex-SNP chief released as Sturgeon says she had ‘no prior knowledge’
Ms Sturgeon announced her shock resignation in February after more than eight years as first minister.
Humza Yousaf was formally sworn in as Scotland’s new leader last week.
Mr Yousaf, who is also the SNP’s leader, described the arrest as a “difficult day” for the party.
Murrell, who married Ms Sturgeon in 2010, resigned as SNP chief executive last month after more than 20 years in the role. He was forced to step down after shouldering the blame for the party’s misleading responses to the media over membership numbers.
Speaking to Sky News’ Beth Rigby last month, Ms Sturgeon would not comment on the police investigation but said it played no part in her decision to step down.