Scotland’s leader Humza Yousaf said Monday he will not suspend the party membership of his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, following her arrest as part of a police probe into the ruling party’s finances.
Sturgeon, who was on Sunday arrested in connection with the investigation and then released without charge after several hours of questioning, insisted she had done nothing wrong.
The brewing scandal has plunged the country’s dominant Scottish National Party (SNP) into deep crisis and damaged its dream for an independent Scotland.
Yousaf told BBC Scotland that Sturgeon’s arrest was “personally painful” given their “long-standing friendship”.
“I’ll not suspend Nicola’s membership. I’ll treat her in the same way I’ve treated, for example, Colin Beattie,” he said referring to former SNP party treasurer who was arrested in April and also released without charge.
Yousaf said he saw “no reason” to suspend the membership of “those that have been released without charge”.
Sturgeon’s arrest is the third in the probe that has sent shockwaves through Scotland’s politics.
Her husband Peter Murrell, the former chief executive of the SNP, was in April arrested and released without charge.
Murrell has long faced questions over the alleged diversion of £600,000 ($750,000) in SNP donations that were meant to support its drive for Scottish independence.
He also failed to declare a personal loan to the SNP of more than £100,000.
Sturgeon, 52, in February announced her resignation after more than eight years as Scotland’s first minister, saying that she lacked the “energy” to carry on.