Ex-SNP spin doctor Murray Foote describes search of Nicola Sturgeon’s home as ‘grotesque spectacle’ | UK News

The SNP’s former spin doctor said he is confident the police investigation into the party’s finances will not result in any charges.

Murray Foote was head of communications until he stood down in March following a row about the party providing inaccurate membership figures to the media during its leadership election, saying he had passed them on in “good faith”.

The former Daily Record editor wrote in the newspaper on Thursday that he is prepared to gamble on there being no charges after the police investigation is concluded.

Mr Foote speculated on the veracity of the probe, codenamed Operation Branchform.

Former chief executive Peter Murrell and ex-treasurer MSP Colin Beattie were both arrested as part of the investigation, but later released without charge.

Mr Foote wrote: “I’m not saying Branchform is a wild goose chase – but what if it is?

“Surely it’s worth considering. Actually, if we cherish the presumption of innocence, then a no charges outcome must be at least considered.

“And the fallout would have serious consequences for the investigating authorities.

“Given the grim spectacle at the house Peter Murrell shares with Nicola Sturgeon and at the party HQ, it’s inconceivable the authorities would be so cavalier without slam dunk evidence, right?”

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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Police searched Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell’s home as well as SNP headquarters
Officers from Police Scotland stand beside by police tape and a police tent outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the party. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023.
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Mr Murrell was arrested and later released without charge

Mr Foote then compared the situation to Rangers where administrators David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were falsely arrested over the football club’s financial woes.

He added: “If they have spectacularly misjudged this one too, then the reputational cost will be far more substantial than the cash spent on manpower.

“By the way, I’m not criticising the investigation itself. If the police receive a complaint, it’s their duty to investigate.”

The former spin doctor said the sight of forensic tents outside of the home of former first minister Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell was “extraordinary” and a “grotesque circus”.

Mr Foote said Mr Beattie and Mr Murrell are highly unlikely to be “master criminals”.

He added: “First minister Sturgeon and her husband lived under crushingly intense scrutiny.

“It is inconceivable to me that Peter would so much as consider doing something dodgy lest it rebound and put his wife in jeopardy.”

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Nicola Sturgeon spoke to the media on her return to the Scottish Parliament following the arrest of her husband last month

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Instead, Mr Foote attacked the Conservatives, saying they know they are the “real party of corruption”, and accused them of exploiting the situation.

Scottish Conservatives MSP Annie Wells said: “Murray Foote may have quit his post but this highly speculative article shows he’s still happy to spin for his former employer, the SNP.

“Mr Foote’s faith in Peter Murrell’s character will raise a few eyebrows, given it was the former chief executive’s lies over SNP membership figures which led to his own resignation.”

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