Serious charge aimed at former SNP Chief Executive

Former Scottish National Party (SNP) Chief Executive Peter Murrell has been re-arrested and charged in connection with alleged embezzlement of Party funds.

Mr Murrell was first arrested ‘as a suspect’ in April last year but was then released without charge.

At the same time, a £110,000 campervan was seized by police from outside his mother’s home. SNP headquarters in Edinburgh was also raided and a number of items removed.

Commenting on the charges, Mr Murrell’s wife, former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the situation as “very difficult”, while First Minister Humza Yousaf said he was shocked at the “very serious and concerning matter”.

The investigation, known as Operation Branchform, began in July 2021 after the police received complaints about how donations to be utilised in a fresh independence campaign were being used. Ms Sturgeon was also part of the investigation.

She voluntarily arranged to be questioned by Police Scotland in June 2023 and was released without charge. However, at the time of writing, she, along with Colin Beattie, the SNP’s former Treasurer, remain under investigation.

Following Mr Murrell’s charges, the police will send a standard prosecution report to the Procurator Fiscal, who will consider whether there is sufficient evidence to prove a crime has been committed and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute him.

If the Crown Office and Prosecution Service (COPFS) decides to go ahead with prosecuting Mr Murrell, he will appear in court at some point in the coming weeks and months.

Commenting on the latest development in this ongoing high-profile case, Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said “In cases like these, forensic accountants are often required to analyse the financial records and the key is often to identify where money has flowed.

“Often the picture can be blurred if funds are paid into an account where they are mixed with other monies before being transferred onwards. 

“Accountants use various asset tracing techniques to try to match payment out of a bank account with corresponding deposits into the account. 

“In very complex cases it is possible to use Artificial Intelligence tools to assist with the process.”

Sources: Guardian

Posted in The Forensic Blog.