Operation Branchform: Police Scotland send Peter Murrell ‘SNP embezzlement’ report to prosecutors | UK News

A significant development has unfolded as Police Scotland has relayed a report to prosecutors concerning Peter Murrell’s alleged misappropriation of funds from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The police issued a statement on Thursday confirming the delivery of a “standard prosecution report” to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

The spokesperson further noted: “The investigation is ongoing, and we are not at liberty to provide additional details at this time.”

At 59 years of age, Mr Murrell not only faces charges for embezzlement, but also bears a personal connection as the spouse of Scotland’s past First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Last month marked the occasion of Mr Murrell’s subsequent detention and charging amid a wide-ranging investigation into the financial undertakings within the SNP.

The COPFS is now confronted with the task of evaluating the sufficiency of evidence against Mr Murrell and determining whether pursuing the case aligns with public interest.

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Charges were brought against Mr Murrell in the preceding month.

Code-named Operation Branchform, this extensive investigation has been in motion since July 2021.

The focus of the inquiry zeroes in on approximately £600,000, which was amassed by SNP backers and designated for advocacy regarding Scottish independence.

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Ex-party treasurer MSP Colin Beattie and the previous SNP leader Ms Sturgeon have both been detained and subsequently released in connection with the investigation, with neither facing charges as of yet. A COPFS spokesperson affirmed that the probe is “still active”.

In the wake of her detainment in June 2023, Ms Sturgeon voiced her resilience: “What gives me strength at this juncture is the conviction that I have committed no wrongdoing.”

Officers from Police Scotland outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was "released without charge pending further investigation", after he was arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into the party's finances. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023.
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Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell’s residence was the subject of a Police Scotland search. Pic: PA

The initial apprehension of Mr Murrell in April 2023 precipitated a search of the shared domicile of the couple. The SNP headquarters located in Edinburgh was also subjected to scrutiny.

A spokesperson for COPFS verified the receipt of the report pertaining to “incidents purported to have taken place between 2016 and 2023”.

“The case report is presently under the assessment of professional prosecutors from COPFS and independent legal advisors,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“Decisions related to the next phase of the proceedings will be made without the involvement of the Lord Advocate or Solicitor General.

“Prosecutors in Scotland function with complete independence from any political influence. They will meticulously appraise the need for substantial evidence before deciding on any public interest-related action.

“To affirm the occurrence of a crime and to identify the implicated individual as the culprit, evidence from no less than two distinct sources is required.

“This scrutiny will incorporate an in-depth review of the wealth of testimonies and the extensive array of evidence amassed during the police inquiries.

“Before making a final decision, it is possible for the authorities to direct the police to undertake additional investigative steps.”

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