Stop trying to ‘interfere’ in Sturgeon police probe, Douglas Ross tells politicians

stop trying to ‘interfere’ in sturgeon police probe, douglas ross tells politicians

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, said it is 'very concerning that any elected politician should try to interfere with an ongoing police inquiry' - Andrew Milligan/PA

Nationalists should stop trying to “interfere” with the police investigation into the SNP’s finances, Douglas Ross has said.

His remarks came following suggestions that the investigation should be suspended during the general election campaign.

The Scottish Tory leader said it was “very concerning” that a former SNP MP had announced he was writing to the Crown Office to request “clarity” over Operation Branchform.

Angus MacNeil, the Western Isles MP, said last weekend he wanted “clarity” on whether investigators will “hold off” until after the election on bringing any further charges.

Mr MacNeil, who is standing in the general election as an independent, warned any action before July 4 had “huge potential to change the narrative of this campaign” and he was doing SNP MPs a “favour” as they could not be seen to ask the Crown Office for the information.

Although he was expelled from the SNP last year, Mr MacNeil said he was concerned for his former colleagues that their campaigns “could get blown off course if any more charges - or indeed any prosecutions - are brought during the election period.”

stop trying to ‘interfere’ in sturgeon police probe, douglas ross tells politicians

Angus MacNeil, the former SNP MP, warned that any action by police before the general election has 'huge potential to change the narrative of this campaign' - Richard Gardner/Shutterstock

His intervention came after Police Scotland announced last Friday, on the second day of campaigning, that a report in relation to Peter Murrell had been handed to the Crown Office.

Mr Murrell, who is Ms Sturgeon’s husband and the SNP’s former chief executive, has been charged in connection with embezzling funds from the party.

The Crown Office also said that investigations into Ms Sturgeon and Colin Beattie, the SNP’s former treasurer, “remain ongoing.”

In a statement, it said that any decisions on what happens next “are not influenced by political events”, suggesting that they would not be specially postponed until after the election campaign.

stop trying to ‘interfere’ in sturgeon police probe, douglas ross tells politicians

Peter Murrell, who is Nicola Sturgeon's husband and former chief executive of the SNP, has been charged in connection with embezzling funds from the party - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Europe

Mr Ross said: “I think it’s very concerning that any elected politician should try to interfere with an ongoing police inquiry.

“We know that the report has been submitted into one of the individuals who’s under investigation and, as I understand it, two further individuals are still under investigation with Operation Branchform.

“The police and Crown Office should be able to do their job. It’s clearly a complex and lengthy investigation, which has been going on now for well over a year.”

He said he wanted to see a resolution to the inquiry “whenever it is suitable” with no political influence over the timetable.

Mr MacNeil was one of the SNP’s longest-serving MPs, serving 18 years on the party’s benches in the Commons, before being expelled last year following a row with the chief whip. He is standing in his seat as an independent in the election.

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