NICOLA Sturgeon has said it was a “coincidence of timing” that she announced her resignation as first minister just weeks before her husband was arrested amid a probe into the SNP’s finances.

The former SNP leader’s comment came as she spoke at the Charleston literary festival in Sussex, where she also said she had stepped down after becoming a focal point for division in Scottish politics.

In comments reported by The Telegraph, the former SNP leader said things had gotten to “the point where I thought I was part of that problem” because there was nobody in Scotland who “doesn’t have an opinion about me whether good or bad – and I’m not sure many people are indifferent”.

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She went on: “It felt as if every issue, people were coming at that issue in terms of how they thought about me – that felt true on the trans issue, it felt true on a number of issues – so I thought, well, if I take myself out of that maybe the politics, the discourse and the debate in Scotland will be a bit more healthy.

“It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but yes that is why I decided to stand down.”

She further said that the proximity between her resignation and the first arrest of her husband Peter Murrell was a “coincidence of timing”.

Sturgeon announced plans to step down as first minister on February 15, 2023.

Seven weeks later, on April 5, Murrell was arrested, questioned, and released without charge by police investigating SNP finances as part of Operation Branchform.

The SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh and Sturgeon and Murrell’s house in Uddingston were searched by police officers on the same day.

The National: A police patrol passes the home of former first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon in Uddingston,

Murrell was then arrested for a second time before being charged in connection with embezzlement on April 18, 2024.

Investigations are ongoing and a report has not yet been sent to the procurator fiscal, but earlier in May Chief Constable Jo Farrell said one should be "within weeks".

Elsewhere at the Charleston literary festival, Sturgeon said she had seen more abuse linked to gender reform than on any other issue “including Scottish independence probably, so it has been really, really difficult”.

The former first minister said she “regrets” that she did not lead Scotland to independence but insisted it would happen in the future, and a Yes vote was not “a rejection of England”.

Elsewhere, she also said there were too many young careerists in the SNP and other parties who had entered politics for “all the wrong reasons”.