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SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell has resigned with immediate effect. It comes after reports suggested members of the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) threatened a vote of no confidence in him.
Mr Murrell has been grappling with a set of crises in recent weeks. This includes a row over SNP membership numbers.
The party had refused to share exactly how many SNP members would vote in the election to replace Mr Murrell’s wife, Scotland’s outgoing First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
But the SNP bowed to pressure earlier this week after candidates Kate Forbes and Ash Regan wrote to Mr Murrell about their doubts as to how the leadership election process was unfolding.
The numbers painted a bleak picture, showing around 30,000 members had left over the last 18 months.
The revelation came several weeks after the SNP denied a newspaper article which had reported that number, which has now been proven accurate.
In a statement, Mr Murrell said: “Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media queries about our membership number lies with me as chief executive.
“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.
“I had not planned to confirm this decision until after the leadership election.”
He added: “However, as my future has become a distraction from the campaign I have concluded that I should stand down now, so the party can focus fully on issues about Scotland’s future.
“The election contest is being run by the National Secretary and I have had no role in it at any point.”
Today’s announcement comes after the departure of the SNP’s media chief, Murray Foote, who left on Friday in the midst of the row over the party’s membership numbers.
Mr Murrell has been the party’s chief executive since 1999.
More to follow…
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