MICHAEL Russell, the SNP president, has taken over as the chief executive of the party following the resignation of Peter Murrell.

Murrell, outgoing first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, resigned his position at the top of the SNP on Saturday.

It came after Murray Foote, the chief of communications for the SNP at Holyrood, resigned suggesting that he had been fed inaccurate information about membership data by party HQ, which he had then relayed to the media.

Murrell took responsibility for the erroneous statements, adding: “While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the outcome.”

READ MORE: SNP MP calls for inquiry after party's media chief quits amid claims HQ 'lied'

The SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) confirmed on Saturday afternoon that Russell would take over the running of party HQ “on an interim and voluntary basis”.

Russell was the chief executive of the party before Murrell’s 24-year tenure. His appointment, the SNP said, will have no bearing on the leadership contest which is being overseen by national secretary Lorna Finn.

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said in a statement: “As business convener, I called NEC to meet today to take responsibility for ensuring the overall operation of SNP headquarters and ahead of the election of a new party leader.

“NEC unanimously backed Michael Russell, our widely respected party resident and a former chief executive, to take responsibility for day-to-day operations on an interim basis until a new party leader is in place and the process of appointing a permanent replacement is complete. I am pleased to confirm that Michael has agreed to this.

“The leadership election has been overseen entirely by the national secretary Lorna Finn who is responsible for all party elections, not the chief executive, and as a result these changes have no impact on the operation of the leadership contest.

"The ballots are issued and counted by Mi-Voice, a respected independent company and voting concludes next Monday.

“Throughout this period, I thank the hard working and diligent staff at SNP HQ whose commitment to our party is second to none.”

The NEC also passed a motion affirming its confidence in the voting system being used to elect a new party leader, and calling for the process to be completed "in a positive and forward looking spirit".

The motion reads: "That the National Executive Committee authorises the party president to take responsibility in a voluntary capacity for the operation of HQ and the work of HQ staff pro tem, pending the election of a new party leader, expresses its confidence in the national secretary and her supervision of that election, the arrangements for which are robust and independent and calls on the candidates, their teams and all party members to complete the process in a positive and forward looking spirit."