Nicola Sturgeon’s husband resigns as SNP chief exec with immediate effect


Outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with her husband Peter Murrell, SNP chief exec (Image: PA)

SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell has resigned with immediate effect. It comes after reports suggested members of the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) had threatened a vote of no confidence in him.

Mr Murrell has been grappling with a set of crises in recent weeks. This includes a row over SNP membership numbers.

The party had refused to share exactly how many SNP members would vote in the election to replace Mr Murrell’s wife, Scotland’s outgoing First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

But the SNP bowed to pressure earlier this week after candidates Kate Forbes and Ash Regan wrote to Mr Murrell about their doubts as to how the leadership election process was unfolding.

The numbers painted a bleak picture, showing around 30,000 members had left over the last 18 months.

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Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell at Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service (Image: Getty)

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The revelation came several weeks after the SNP denied a newspaper article which had reported that number, which has now been proven accurate.

In a statement, Mr Murrell said: “Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media queries about our membership number lies with me as chief executive.

“While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the outcome. I have therefore decided to confirm my intention to step down as chief executive with immediate effect.

“I had not planned to confirm this decision until after the leadership election.”


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SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes (Image: Getty)

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Ash Regan appears in the Scottish Parliament (Image: Getty)

He added: “However, as my future has become a distraction from the campaign I have concluded that I should stand down now, so the party can focus fully on issues about Scotland’s future.

“The election contest is being run by the National Secretary and I have had no role in it at any point.”

Today’s announcement comes after the departure of the SNP’s media chief, Murray Foote, who left on Friday in the midst of the row over the party’s membership numbers.

Mr Murrell has been the party’s chief executive since 1999.

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SNP leadership hopeful Humza Yousaf (Image: Getty)

His statement continued: “I am very proud of what has been achieved in my time as chief executive and of the part I have played in securing the electoral success the party has enjoyed over almost two decades.

“Fourteen national election wins is testament to the skills of the dedicated and talented HQ team that I have been privileged to lead.

“They give their all to the party and the independence cause and I thank them for it.

“I have worked for independence all my life and will continue to do so, albeit in a different capacity, until it is achieved – and I do firmly believe that independence is now closer than ever.”

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Scottish Conservatives chairman, Craig Hoy (Image: Getty)

Mr Foote had 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.

The SNP on Thursday revealed membership as of February 15 this year was 72,186, having fallen from 103,884 in 2021.

This corroborated a story in the Sunday Mail in February about the SNP losing 30,000 members, something which Mr Foote had strongly denied at the time.

The Herald newspaper on Saturday reported a senior member of the NEC saying: “We have the numbers. There’s not a hope in hell that Peter can survive a no confidence motion.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “A fish rots from the head down and the same applies to the SNP.

“Peter Murrell’s resignation is long overdue, but there remain serious questions for him to answer, not least over the ‘missing’ £600,000 from party accounts.

“The brutal, shambolic SNP leadership election appears to have been the tipping point that’s forced the First Minister’s husband to quit before he was pushed.

“When two of the three candidates publicly question the integrity of the contest to elect Scotland’s First Minister and the party’s top spin doctor quits because he was fed lies by senior party figures, then the game is up.”

Mr Hoy added that while Mr Murrell may be quitting as chief executive, he must fully cooperate with any probes into the way the leadership election has been run and with a police inquiry into the SNP’s finances.

The Scottish Conservative chairman said: “This ongoing SNP civil war is disastrous for the whole of Scotland. How can a party that is unable to govern itself possibly govern the country?

“The public’s real priorities are being ignored as the SNP turns inwards on itself and that will remain the case whoever emerges from this carnage as First Minister.”

SNP Chief Executive Resigns

Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media about her husband’s resignation (Image: Getty)

Ms Regan said: “Eight years ago was the point where it was unacceptable to have the husband of the party leader as the CEO. I am encouraged to see the democratic foundations of the party now asserting their rightful function.

“The SNP is more than capable of surviving this, as long as we stick true to our roots, and we uphold the values of our members.”

Mr Yousaf praised Mr Murrell as “an outstanding servant of the independence movement”.

Scotland’s Health Secretary said: “I agree with Peter that it is time for him to move on and make way for a new leader to appoint a new chief executive as passionate about the SNP and the cause of independence as he has been.

“With less than ten days to go in this leadership contest, it is vital we all focus on the policies and vision we have for the party, movement and country.”