SOME of Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior Cabinet ministers have been questioned by police as part of Operation Branchform, it has emerged.

Last year the former first minister and her husband Peter Murrell were both arrested and released without charge as part of the probe into the SNP’s finances.

Now detectives have interviewed a handful of members of her former leadership team, according to the Mail on Sunday.

It is also being reported a new officer has been brought onto the investigation, which insiders told the paper was part of an effort to run “a fresh pair of eyes” over the findings before an official report goes to the Crown Office.

It will be prosecutors who decide if charges are brought, not police.

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A source said: “A new senior investigating officer was put in charge about three or four months ago to have a proper read across everything.

“There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the police and the Crown Office.

“There have been interviews done with former Cabinet ministers who were in position when Ms Sturgeon took over.”

Another source told the paper the Crown Office would have to make a decision “sooner rather than later” with a General Election on the horizon.

The Operation Branchform probe, launched in May 2021, is focused on how around £600,000 raised by the party for independence campaigning was used.

In February it emerged staff at SNP headquarters were to be re-interviewed by police, the move having been directed by the Crown Office.

This included staff that were not in place when the inquiry began.

Last year, as well as the arrests of Sturgeon and Murrell, former party treasurer Colin Beattie was detained and released without charge.

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At the end of last year it was reported the probe had so far cost more than £1 million and two former sheriffs called for clarity on its progress.

In January First Minister Humza Yousaf  addressed the issue of the police investigation into SNP finances, saying it “clearly” affected the public perception of the party.

He said the inquiry has been “one of the most difficult times” for the SNP and that he must work hard to rebuild trust.

An SNP spokesperson said: “These issues are subject to a live police investigation. 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.”