Nicola Sturgeon's £600K security axed amid row over huge taxpayer cost

Nicola Sturgeon attends final Cabinet meeting in March

Nicola Sturgeon is to have her VIP police security scrapped

Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 23/08/2023

- 11:29

Former First Minister to have her £600,000-a-year security axed in a dispute over its cost

Nicola Sturgeon is set to have her £600,000-a-year VIP police security scrapped following a behind-the-scenes row over huge costs to the public.

The high-level protection for Scotland’s former First Minister was extended after she left office at the end of March, amid fears she needed the security, sources have revealed.

Scottish Government’s top official, Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks, and Former Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone, who retired this month, agreed to pull the plug on the 24/7 protection.

Scottish Tory MSP and Shadow Justice Secretary Russell Findlay said that in order to find space in the budget some "incredibly tough" decisions.

Nicola Sturgeon exits taxi as she arrives in London for UK Covid-19 Inquiry

An insider claims Sturgeon showed 'pushback' against the decision


"With the SNP cutting Police Scotland’s budget by hundreds of millions of pounds, the force has to make some incredibly tough spending decisions to keep the people of Scotland safe.

"However, the decision to axe Nicola Sturgeon’s £600,000-a-year protection will have been taken following rigorous and scrupulous assessment of all potential risk.

"For a politician under 24/7 police protection to have been arrested by other Police Scotland detectives must surely have been a first."

The decision comes after it emerged the team remained in place when Ms Sturgeon was arrested and later released without charge on June 11, as part of a police investigation into the SNP’s finances.

Sturgeon resigned as First Minister on March 28, a week before husband Peter Murrell was arrested and released without charge, amid an investigation into the whereabouts of £600,000 of donations to the SNP for a second independence referendum bid.

There have been claims of a "row" behind the scenes over the decision to fully end her security, after threats to the ex-First Minister in recent years.

One insider said: "While it didn’t come directly from Sturgeon, there was pushback against the decision — a bit of a row behind the scenes."

But party officials insist Sturgeon and the SNP did not fight the recommendation.

Nicola Sturgeon speaks outside Scottish Parliament in Holyrood

The former First Minister's 24/7 protection is costing £600,000 a year


Sources reveal her security has been cut back and is due to be scaled down completely this month.

Last week, her successor Humza Yousaf told an audience at Edinburgh Festival Fringe that Nicola Sturgeon had become sick of being under police watch.

She once told the First Minister of Scotland: "You’ve got no idea what it’s like.

"I can’t even go for a coffee with a friend without police officers at the table next to me."

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