Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell resigns as SNP CEO

Reports had suggested that members of the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) threatened a vote of no confidence in him.

It follows the departure of SNP media chief Murray Foote, who left on Friday amid a dispute over party membership.

Murrell has been the party’s chief executive for more than 20 years.

Scottish National Party leadership election
Mr Murrell said there was no intent to mislead (Andy Buchanan/PA)

In a statement on Saturday, Murrell said: “Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media inquiries about our membership rests with me as chief executive.

“While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the result. Therefore, I have decided to confirm my intention to step down as CEO with immediate effect.

“I had not planned to confirm this decision until after the leadership election.

“However, as my future has become a campaign distraction, I have come to the conclusion that I must retire now, so that the party can concentrate fully on issues relating to the future of Scotland.

“The electoral contest is in charge of the national secretary and I have not had any role at any time.

“I am very proud of what has been accomplished in my time as chief executive and of the role I have played in ensuring the electoral success the party has enjoyed for nearly two decades.

“Fourteen national election victories are testament to the skills of the dedicated and talented HQ team I have been privileged to lead.

“They give everything for the party and the independence cause and I thank them.

“I have worked for independence all my life and will continue to do so, albeit in a different capacity, until it is achieved, and I firmly believe that independence is now closer than ever.”

Earlier this week, news broke that the party had lost 30,000 members in just over a year.

Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell
Murrell has been the party’s executive director for two decades (Daniel Leal/PA)

Foote said that after speaking with party headquarters, he had issued responses to the media that they had “serious issues” and later decided there was a “serious impediment” to his role.

On Thursday, the party revealed that membership as of February 15 this year stood at 72,186, after having fallen from 103,884 in 2021.

This corroborated a story in the Sunday Mail in February about the loss of 30,000 SNP members, something Foote had strongly denied at the time.

On Saturday, the Herald newspaper reported that a senior NEC member said: “We have the numbers. There’s not a hope in hell that Peter can survive a vote of no confidence.”

This week, two of the candidates to replace Sturgeon, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, raised concerns about the integrity of the election.

However, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, widely seen as the favorite for the top job in the party hierarchy, dismissed them as “baseless smears.”

Ms Regan said: “Eight years ago was the point where it was unacceptable to have the party leader’s husband as chief executive.

“I am heartened to see the party’s democratic foundation now asserting its legitimate role.

“The SNP is more than capable of surviving this, as long as we stay true to our roots and uphold the values ​​of our members.”

Earlier, SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes had acknowledged “extraordinary turbulence” in the party.


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