The recent controversies which piled pressure on Nicola Sturgeon as first minister announces resignation | UK News

Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to step down as first minister comes after a number of controversial issues piled pressure on the SNP leader.

Ms Sturgeon’s Scottish government came under fire last month after transgender double rapist Isla Bryson was housed in an all-female prison before being moved to the male estate.

The 31-year-old had been found guilty of attacking two women while a man and was initially housed in Cornton Vale near Stirling.

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The case caused controversy amid a debate around self-ID and the Scottish government’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act, which was blocked by the UK government.

Following public backlash, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Keith Brown ordered an urgent case review into the management of transgender prisoners.

Although the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) concluded that women were ‘not at risk of harm’ during Bryson’s stay at Cornton Vale, the Scottish Conservatives branded the report a “whitewash summary” and called for it to be published in full.

Tory MSP Russell Findlay said: “We still have no idea why a double rapist was sent into a women’s prison or what involvement SNP ministers had in his removal following the public backlash.”

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Nicola Sturgeon resigns as Scotland’s first minister

Women ‘not at risk’ when transgender rapist housed in female-only jail

But despite mounting problems, the SNP has maintained a strong lead in polling.

Questions over husband’s loan to SNP

Ms Sturgeon was also recently questioned over her husband Peter Murrell’s £107,000 loan to the SNP.

She said she could not recall when she first found out about the loan, and insisted that “what he does with his resources is a matter for him”.

During a press conference earlier this month, Ms Sturgeon said: “The resources that he lent the party were resources that belonged to him.”

In December, it emerged that Mr Murrell, who is the party’s chief executive, made the loan in June 2021 to help with “cash flow” following a Holyrood election campaign.

Following the election in May, SNP MP Douglas Chapman quit as the party’s treasurer, claiming he was not given enough information about finances to do his job.

It came after three other members of the SNP’s finance and audit committee also resigned.

Police Scotland is also currently investigating what happened to an estimated £600,000 raised by party activists to be ringfenced for a second independence referendum campaign.

The SNP has denied any wrongdoing.

During Ms Sturgeon’s press conference announcing her resignation, a journalist asked: “Have you been or do you expect to be interviewed by the police who are looking into your party’s finances?”

The first minister replied: “I’m not going to discuss an ongoing police investigation. I wouldn’t do that on any issue and I’m not going to do it now.”

Ms Sturgeon has led the party and the country since 2014 after taking over from her predecessor, Alex Salmond, making her the longest-serving first minister since devolution to Holyrood.