Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, has resigned as SNP chief executive with immediate effect amid demands within the party for him to step down as rivals fight to replace her as leader.
Murrell announced his resignation on Saturday morning after a group of members of the SNP’s governing body launched a bid to remove him.
According to reports, most members were prepared to support a motion of no confidence against the Chief Executive if he did not come forward voluntarily.
The party is facing political turmoil after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to step down as Prime Minister and leader of the SNP earlier this year.
His resignation follows SNP media chief Murray Foote, who left on Friday amid a dispute over party membership.
Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, has stepped down as chief executive of the SNP.
Mr. Murrell has been the Executive Director of the SNP for the past 20 years.
Foote said that after speaking with party headquarters, he had issued responses to the media that they had “serious issues” and later decided there was a “serious impediment” to his role.
He had previously reportedly been told to deny the reports as “inaccurate” and “nonsense”, and was charged with providing false membership numbers to a Mail journalist.
On Thursday, the party revealed that membership as of February 15 this year stood at 72,186, after having fallen from 103,884 in 2021.
The numbers only emerged after the party was accused of a lack of integrity and transparency, including by those who were running to replace Ms Sturgeon.
Just before Mr Murrell announced his resignation, a senior member of the SNP’s governing body told Sky News: “The onus is on Peter… he shouldn’t have thrown a junior staff member under the bus.” .
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 competition to determine Ms Sturgeon’s replacement was being overseen by her own husband.
In a statement, Mr. Murrell said: “Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media inquiries about our membership number rests with me as chief executive. Although there was no intention to deceive, I accept that this has been the result. Therefore, I have decided to confirm my intention to step down as CEO with immediate effect.
‘I had not planned to confirm this decision until after the leadership election.
“However, as my future has become a campaign distraction, I have come to the conclusion that I should retire now, so that the party can concentrate fully on issues of Scotland’s future.
‘The electoral contest is in charge of the National Secretary and I have not had any role in it at any time.
‘I am very proud of what has been achieved in my time as chief executive and of the role I have played in ensuring the electoral success the party has enjoyed for nearly two decades.
The victories in the 2014 national elections are a testament to the skills of the dedicated and talented team at headquarters that I have been privileged to lead.
‘They give everything for the party and the independence cause and I thank them.
“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 firmly believe that independence is now closer than ever.”
The SNP is in political crisis after the shock resignation of Nicola Sturgeon last month.
SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes today acknowledged “extraordinary turbulence” in the party.
On Saturday, Ms Forbes issued an open letter to SNP members who had not yet cast their vote.
But she herself has been beset by problems after she told the media that she would have voted against allowing gay marriage because of her conservative religious beliefs.
She told the members: ‘Many of you, like me, will be hurt and bewildered by the extraordinary turmoil in our party in recent days.
“If anyone had any doubts that this must be a turnaround election for the SNP, recent events and the resignations confirm the central message of my campaign: Continuity will not be enough.”
He continued: ‘I love the SNP and am passionate about Scotland’s future as an independent, fair and wealthy nation.
‘Some 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 walk away from difficult times.
‘Instead, I find the solution and give it my all.
“I have great respect for the other two candidates, but I am the only candidate who can really make a difference as Prime Minister.”
Ms Forbes, who is on maternity leave from her government role as Finance Secretary, has pledged to reform the party and has pledged to carry out an independent audit 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 leave.
She said: “I am heartened to see the party’s democratic foundation now asserting its legitimate functions.”
Fellow leadership candidate Humza Yousaf addressed Mr Foote’s departure on Friday.
He said Foote “has been exceptional since joining SNP’s media team” and that he will “be greatly missed.”
Mr Yousaf added: ‘The reform of our headquarters operations has been a key part of my campaign. With new party leadership, should come a new approach to the operation of our headquarters.”
This is breaking news and is being updated.