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The Guardian view on the police and the SNP: a high-stakes moment | Editorial

The arrest of Peter Murrell and the searches of party offices and Nicola Sturgeon’s home mark a major shift in political regulation

The arrest of the man who has been by far the most important official of the Scottish National party for more than two decades is liable to be a defining moment for its future credibility. Until he resigned last month, Peter Murrell’s influence in Scottish political life was hard to exaggerate. Though he had worked mainly behind the scenes since starting with the SNP in 1999, he is married to Nicola Sturgeon and has always run a tight regime. He was the SNP’s unchallenged organiser of multiple election victories. For the past decade, only Ms Sturgeon has had more clout than he.

It is therefore important to stress, both for the sake of basic fairness and because conspiracy theories are now thriving, that the police investigation is ongoing and has not ended, and that no charges have been either laid or proved. Mr Murrell was released without charge on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the events of this week are also without precedent in British politics.

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