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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Nichola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell steps down as SNP chief executive 

Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell resigns as SNP chief executive in membership numbers row while rivals battle to replace her as leader

Nicola Sturgeon‘s husband Peter Murrell has stepped down as the Chief Executive of the SNP amid demands from within the party for him to quit – as rivals battle it out to replace her as leader. 

Mr Murrell announced his resignation on Saturday morning after a group of members of the SNP’s ruling body launched a bid to remove him.

A majority of members reportedly were ready to support a motion of no confidence in the Chief Executive if he did not voluntarily go. 

The party is facing political turmoil after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to resign as First Minister and leader of the SNP earlier this year. 

His resignation follows SNP media chief Murray Foote leaving on Friday amid a row over the party’s membership numbers.

Nicola Sturgeon ‘s husband Peter Murrell has stepped down as the Chief Executive of the SNP

Mr Foote said that after speaking to the party’s HQ, he had issued responses to the media which had ‘serious issues’ and he later decided there was a ‘serious impediment’ to his role. 

He had reportedly previously been told to deny the reports as ‘inaccurate’ and ‘drivel’ – and was accused of providing bogus membership numbers to a Mail journalist.

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

Just before Mr Murrell announced his resignation, a senior member of the SNP’s governing body told Sky News: ‘The buck stops with Peter… he shouldn’t have thrown a junior member of staff under the bus.’

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

There have also been multiple protests by SNP members that the leadership contest to determine the replacement for Ms Sturgeon was being overseen by her own husband. 

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes today acknowledged ‘extraordinary turmoil’ in the party. 

On Saturday, Ms Forbes issued an open letter to SNP members who had yet to cast their vote.

But she herself has been beset by issues after she told the media she would have voted against allowing gay marriage to her conservative religious beliefs. 

She told members: ‘Many of you, like me, will be hurt and bemused by the extraordinary turmoil in our party over the last days.

‘If anyone was in any doubt that this needs to be a change election for the SNP, recent events and resignations confirm the core message of my campaign: continuity won’t cut it.’

She continued: ‘I love the SNP, and I am passionate about Scotland’s future as an independent, fair and wealthy nation.

‘A few years ago, scandal rocked the SNP and I was asked to step up and deliver the budget with only a few hours’ notice.

‘I did it, for my party and for the people of this country. That is the mark of who I am. I will not shy away from difficult times.

‘Instead I find the solution and give it my all.

‘I have a great deal of respect for the two other candidates, but I am the only candidate who can truly deliver change as First Minister.’

Ms Forbes, who is on maternity leave from her government role as Finance Secretary, pledged to reform the party and committed to independent auditing of membership and finances.

Ash Regan, one of the other candidates in the race, tweeted about the report that NEC members were calling on Mr Murrell to go.

She said: ‘I am encouraged to see the democratic foundations of the party now asserting their rightful functions.’

Fellow leadership candidate Humza Yousaf addressed Mr Foote’s departure on Friday.

He said Mr Foote ‘has been outstanding since joining the SNP media team’ and that he would be ‘sorely missed’.

Mr Yousaf added: ‘Reform of our HQ operations has been a key part of my campaign. With fresh party leadership should come a fresh approach to our HQ operation.’

This is a breaking news story and is being updated. 

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