THE First Minister has dismissed questions around whether Peter Murrell’s arrest was delayed until after the SNP leadership contest had ended as “a conspiracy theory”.

Humza Yousaf was speaking to journalists at Bute House on Thursday, one day after the police questioned the SNP former chief executive under caution before he was later released.

Yousaf fielded questions on comments made by SNP figures including former cabinet secretary Alex Neil and Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil.

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MacNeil had told this paper earlier on Thursday: “We have to know: Did the leadership contest influence the police’s timing? I think that’s a question for Police Scotland and I think for democracy it’s very important that the police answer that question.”

But the First Minister dismissed the questions, telling journalists that the SNP was not “in cahoots” with police.

Yousaf said: “To me, that sounds like a conspiracy theory, that somehow we were in cahoots with Police Scotland around the timing.

The National: The FM said that as far as he was aware no other properties related to the SNP or party staff have been searchedThe FM said that as far as he was aware no other properties related to the SNP or party staff have been searched

“The timing of any investigation is absolutely for Police Scotland, it’s not determined by anybody else.”

Yousaf was also asked for further details of the police operation which saw SNP HQ, as well as Nicola Sturgeon’s home, searched by officers on Wednesday.

Questioned on whether any other SNP properties or homes of SNP staff, had been searched, Yousaf said: “Not that I’m aware of, not that I’m aware of at all. The only ones I know about are SNP headquarters and Peter and Nicola’s [house].”

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He added elsewhere when asked if SNP staffers had had their houses searched: “I certainly don’t know that to be the case and I certainly don’t think that to be the case.”

Asked if he could say exactly how many people in the SNP had been questioned by police, Yousaf said: “I would need to go back and look at that and I would need to be absolutely certain we could give you that information without compromising a current live police investigation.

“You’ll have seen reports of various people that have been questioned already. The only one in my understanding that has been questioned under caution is Peter [Murrell].”