The husband of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon resigned as the head of the ruling Scottish National Party on Saturday, March 18, after a row over the party’s membership numbers. Peter Murrell, 58, the SNP’s chief executive, departs a month after Sturgeon’s shock resignation as Scotland’s first minister.
Murrell’s resignation comes after the SNP’s head of communications quit on Friday after it emerged that he had been told to deny reports that the SNP had lost 30,000 members. The party was forced to confirm the fall in paid-up support after the three candidates competing to take over from Sturgeon asked Murrell to release the information.
“Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media queries about our membership number lies with me as chief executive,” Murrell said. “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.”
On Thursday, the SNP confirmed membership had fallen from 103,884 in 2021 to 72,186 as of February 15.
Murrell has led the SNP for nearly 25 years. He and Sturgeon married in Glasgow in 2010. Sturgeon has been party leader and Scotland’s first minister since 2014. Sturgeon said in February that she lacked the “energy” to carry on and that she would step down after eight years at the helm.
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The three candidates in the running to take over from Sturgeon are Finance Minister Kate Forbes, Health Minister Humza Yousaf, and Ash Regan, a former minister. The new leader is set to be announced on March 27.