Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, has resigned from his position as Chief Executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) after members of the party’s ruling body pushed for his removal.
The party is currently facing turmoil as it searches for a replacement for Sturgeon as First Minister and leader of the SNP, with three candidates vying for the position.
Murrell’s resignation followed that of SNP media chief Murray Foote, who left amid a dispute over the party’s membership numbers. The party has been accused of a lack of transparency, with its membership reportedly falling from 103,884 in 2021 to 72,186 as of February 15 this year.
Murrell’s resignation came after a group of members of the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) called for him to quit or face a vote of no confidence.
Murrell had been in the position for more than 20 years, and he stated that responsibility for the party’s responses to media queries about its membership numbers lay with him.
Murrell had reportedly instructed Foote to deny claims that the SNP’s membership had dropped by 30,000, and Foote had inadvertently provided bogus membership numbers to a journalist. Murrell denied any intention to mislead but stated that he accepted the outcome.
Sturgeon described Murrell’s resignation as the right decision, and the three candidates running to replace her welcomed the news. The SNP is due to elect a new leader on March 27, with the leadership contest being overseen by the National Secretary.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who is backing Ash Regan’s leadership campaign, stated that the party needed a reset and that integrity mattered.
Meanwhile, the party’s political opponents highlighted that the SNP’s finances are still being investigated, and that there remain questions for Murrell to answer, particularly regarding the missing £600,000 from party accounts.
Michael Russell, the party’s current president, will take over the operation of SNP headquarters until a permanent replacement for Murrell is found.