Peter Morell, husband of Nicola Sturgeon, quits as SNP chief executive in a row over membership figures as rivals battle to replace her as leader
Peter Morell, husband of Nicola Sturgeon, has resigned as chief executive of the SNP amid demands from within the party for him to step down – with rivals fighting to replace her as leader.
Morrell announced his resignation on Saturday morning after a group of SNP governing body members launched a bid to sack him.
The majority of members were reportedly willing to support a motion of no confidence in the CEO if he did not go voluntarily.
The party is facing political turmoil after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to step down as first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party earlier this year.
His resignation follows the departure of the SNP’s media chief Murray Foot on Friday amid a row over the party’s membership figures.
Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Morell has resigned as chief executive of the Scottish National Party
Mr Foot said that after speaking to party headquarters, he issued responses to the media that had “serious issues” and later determined there was a “serious barrier” to his role.
He was reportedly previously told to dismiss the reports as “inaccurate” and “nonsense” – and accused of providing false membership numbers to a Post journalist.
On Thursday, the party revealed that its membership, as of February 15, amounted to 72,186 members, after declining from 103,884 in 2021.
Just before Morrell announced his resignation, a senior member of the SNP’s governing body told Sky News: “The responsibility stops with Peter… He shouldn’t have thrown a junior staffer under the bus.”
Mr. Morrell has been the CEO of the party for over 20 years.
There were also multiple protests by SNP members that the leadership contest to decide Lady Sturgeon’s replacement was being overseen by her husband.
The SNP’s leadership candidate, Kate Forbes, admitted today that there was “extraordinary turmoil” in the party.
On Saturday, Forbes released an open letter to SNP members who have yet to cast a vote.
But she herself was exposed to issues after she told the media that she was going to vote against allowing same-sex marriage out of her conservative religious beliefs.
She told the members: ‘Many of you, like myself, will be hurt and stunned by the extraordinary commotions in our party during the last days.
“If anyone had any doubt that this must be an election to transform the SNP, recent events and resignations underscore the core message of my campaign: continuity will not kill it.”
She continued: ‘I love the Scottish National Party, and I am passionate about Scotland’s future as an independent, fair and rich country.
A few years ago, the SNP was rocked by scandal 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. This is the sign of who I am. I will not shy away from hard times.
Instead I find the solution and give it my all.
“I have a great deal of respect for the other candidates, but I am the only candidate who can really make a difference as first minister.”
Ms. Forbes, who was on maternity leave from her government position as finance minister, pledged to reform the party and committed herself to an independent review of membership and finances.
Ash Regan, one of the other candidates in the race, tweeted about the report that members of the National Election Commission were telling Mr. Morrell to go.
“I am heartened to see the party’s democratic foundations now affirm its legitimate functions,” she said.
Fellow leadership candidate Hamza Yusuf spoke of Mr. Foot’s departure on Friday.
He said Mr. Foote “has been fantastic since joining the media team at SNP” and that he will be “greatly missed”.
Mr. Yusuf added: “Reforming HQ operations has been a key part of my campaign. With the new party leadership must come a new approach to our HQ operation.
This is a breaking news story and is being updated.
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