Police have reportedly seized a luxury campervan from the home of Nicola Sturgeon’s mother-in-law the same morning they raided the former First Minister’s house.
Officers confiscated the vehicle from outside the home of Margaret Murrell, the 92-year-old mother of Peter Murrell, on Wednesday morning. She lives in a private estate in Dunfermline, Fife.
The confiscation of the Niesmann + Bischoff motorhome took place at 9am, shortly after police started their search of Ms Sturgeon’s and Mr Murrell’s Glasgow home 50 miles away.
Neighbours said the high-end campervan, similar models of which can sell for around £110,000, was originally delivered to the address by two men in January 2021 and had not been moved since.
Mr Murrell, the SNP’s former chief executive and Ms Sturgeon’s husband, was arrested on Wednesday by police investigating the spending of about £600,000 that was earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning.
He was released later that day without charge pending further investigation. Police Scotland officers spent two days searching the couple’s home and also searched the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh.
The detached house in Glasgow was treated as a potential crime scene, cordoned off with police tape and with a large tent erected in the front garden. Officers were seen searching through bins and examining a barbecue in the back garden.
The ongoing investigation has been described by SNP president Mike Russell as the party’s biggest crisis in 50 years. On Saturday, Ms Sturgeon spoke publicly for the first time since her husband’s arrest, addressing reporters outside her home.
In a short statement, she said the last few days had been “obviously difficult” and that she would “fully cooperate” with the police investigation.
Vehicle ‘loaded on the back of a huge lorry’
A neighbour of Margaret Murrell told the Scottish Mail on Sunday two unmarked police cars, one silver SUV and one graphite-coloured estate, pulled up outside her bungalow last Wednesday and removed the campervan.
A marked police car was parked further up the road as officers moved the vehicle, which weighs more than three tons, onto the back of a tow truck
One witness told the newspaper: “It happened at about 9am, which is about the same time they started raiding Peter’s house I think. They did not go into the house, as Margaret is quite old now and they would not have wanted to disturb her.
“They couldn’t get into the motorhome at first because it was locked and it had clamps on it so they had to get some keys from somewhere. They went off but came back and managed to get it open. Then they loaded it on the back of a huge lorry and – after a bit of trouble securing it – took it away.”
The campervan was an iSmove model, the latest version of which includes felt walls “for delightfully soothing acoustics”, an expandable kitchen, electric shelves, mood lighting and a “disappearing” shower.
Investigation ‘grows more surreal by the day’
Craig Hoy, the Scottish Tory chairman, said: “The investigation into the SNP’s murky finances grows more surreal by the day. The sight of a luxury motorhome being seized would be almost comic, were the issue not so serious.
“Senior party figures, including Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon, must come clean about what they knew and when in relation to the party’s finances.”
Since July 2021, Police Scotland has been examining the SNP’s handling of more than £600,000 in donations raised in 2017 for a second independence referendum.
The second referendum never happened and some donors asked for their money back, saying they had been told the money would be ring-fenced for a referendum campaign.
It later emerged that in June 2021, Mr Murrell made a personal loan of £107,620 to the party to “assist with cashflow”, which is now also understood to be part of the investigation.
Last month it was disclosed that police were investigating high-value transactions, including the purchase of cars.
Police Scotland have said their investigation is ongoing and refused to confirm or deny whether the seizure of the motorhome was connected.
An SNP spokesman said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on any live police investigation.
“The SNP has been cooperating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so.”