Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she is "innocent of any wrongdoing" after she was released from custody following her arrest by police investigating the SNP's finances scandal.

A spokesperson for the former first minister said Ms Sturgeon "attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned" by police.

She was later released without charge.

Ms Sturgeon said she was "certain I have committed no offence", adding that the episode was "deeply distressing".

Police Scotland said the former first minister was arrested at 10.09am on Sunday and was released from custody at 5.24pm.

A Police Scotland statement said: "A 52-year-old woman who was arrested earlier today, Sunday, 11 June, 2023, as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party, has been released without charge pending further investigation.

"The woman was questioned by Police Scotland detectives after she was arrested at 10.09am. She was released from custody at 5.24pm.

"A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

"The matter remains active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.

"As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further."

READ MORE: SNP responds to Peter Murrell arrest as police search party HQ

In a statement following her release, the former first minister said: “To find myself in the situation I did today when I am certain I have committed no offence is both a shock and deeply distressing. 

“I know that this ongoing investigation is difficult for people, and I am grateful that so many continue to show faith in me and appreciate that I would never do anything to harm either the SNP or the country.

“Obviously, given the nature of this process, I cannot go into detail.

“However, I do wish to say this, and to do so in the strongest possible terms. Innocence is not just a presumption I am entitled to in law. 

“I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.”

The former first minister’s arrest comes after her husband Peter Murrell was arrested in April.

Mr Murrell and MSP Colin Beattie, who was SNP treasurer at the time, were both released without charge pending further inquiry.

As well as the arrests, searches were carried out at a number of properties, including Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon’s home – where a police tent was erected in the garden – and SNP headquarters in Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon describes police probe as 'unexpected and unwelcome'

The investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – began in 2021.

It was opened after allegations £600,000 raised for campaigning towards Scottish independence was diverted elsewhere.

Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation as first minister in February this year.

She said at the time that she knew "in my head and in my heart" that it was the right time to go, and has denied the timing of her resignation was influenced by the ongoing police probe.

Her husband stepped down as party chief executive during the leadership contest that followed ahead of being forced out.

Ms Sturgeon continues to be the MSP for Glasgow Southside.

The SNP’s governing body, the national executive committee, agreed that a review of transparency and governance in the party should take place.

Mr Beattie was arrested and interviewed later in April.

Following Ms Sturgeon’s arrest, a spokeswoman for the SNP said: “These issues are subject to a live police investigation.

She added: “The SNP have been co-operating fully with this investigation and will continue to do so, however it is not appropriate to publicly address any issues while that investigation is ongoing.”

Rival parties also commented on the arrest. 

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “This is a deeply concerning development and the Police Scotland investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.

“For too long, a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy, has renewed the party's call for the former first minister to be suspended.

He said: "Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures – including Humza Yousaf – must cooperate fully with this police investigation and commit to full transparency surrounding it.

“The SNP continue to be engulfed in murkiness and chaos. Humza Yousaf must now show some leadership and suspend his predecessor from the SNP.

“The SNP set that precedent when politicians such as Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry were under investigation and must do so again here."

He added: “This extremely serious matter is continuing to escalate and the result is that the SNP are totally distracted at the worst possible time.

"This is the time they should be focused on the real priorities facing the people of Scotland, such as the cost-of-living crisis, fixing our NHS and strengthening our economy.”

An SNP MP has also backed calls for ms Sturgeon to be suspended.

Posting on Twitter, Angus MacNeil said: “This soap-opera has gone far enough, Nicola Sturgeon suspended others from the SNP for an awful lot less!

“Time for political distance until the investigation ends either way.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s fair to say that today’s events will have huge ramifications both for the SNP and the future of Scottish politics.”

Earlier today, Humza Yousaf said he has spoken to the former first minister recently and said she is “in a good place and doing well”.

He added: “Why would I not want to get some advice from arguably one of the best politicians, the most impressive politicians, Europe has seen over the last couple of decades?”

A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said: "Nicola Sturgeon has today, Sunday 11 June, by arrangement with Police Scotland, attended an interview where she was to be arrested and questioned in relation to Operation Branchform.

"Nicola has consistently said she would co-operate with the investigation if asked and continues to do so."