Sturgeon has ‘huge’ contribution to make to SNP election campaign, Swinney says

John Swinney has said former first minister Nicola Sturgeon has a “huge” contribution to make in the SNP’s General Election campaign.

Ms Sturgeon has kept a relatively low profile amid Police Scotland’s Operation Branchform investigation, which saw her arrested and later released without charge as officers probe the spending of £600,000 of SNP funds.

Her husband and former party chief executive Peter Murrell was charged with embezzlement as part of the probe.

Former party treasurer and current MSP Colin Beattie was also arrested and released pending further investigation.

Charges have not been brought against Ms Sturgeon or Mr Beattie, and Police Scotland say the investigation “remains ongoing”.

In May, Ms Sturgeon was quizzed by journalists on why she had not yet joined her former deputy – now First Minister – to campaign for the party as part of the election.

She announced a tentative campaign return, stating she would contribute in “ways I think are helpful”, and is set to endorse Glasgow South candidate, and former MP, Stewart McDonald later this month.

Mr Swinney would not be drawn on why his former boss had not been seen alongside him on the campaign trail so far.

The First Minister spoke as he visited the Reconnect Howden Park Centre where he met young performers.

He told the PA news agency: “I welcome very much Nicola’s contribution to our election campaign. She is supporting a range of different candidates around the country and that’s good.

“I work collaboratively and closely with Nicola, and welcome her participation in the campaign.

“I think Nicola has got a huge amount to contribute to the SNP and the cause of Scottish independence.”

The Scottish First Minister has previously acknowledged the “challenging times” facing the party following the investigation.

In May, Ms Sturgeon said: “I will be campaigning in the election from time to time, yes.”

Pressed on whether she will campaign alongside the First Minister, she added: “John will have his own programme and I will campaign in ways that I think are helpful to candidates.”

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