Gambling Affiliate Takes Over Scottish Political Party’s Website

Posted on: April 24, 2023, 09:00h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2023, 11:55h.

The Scottish Sun discovered over the weekend that, a website accepting donations for a second independence referendum campaign, no longer targets politics. Instead, it appears to be a gambling affiliate website.

from a website requesting campaign donations for a Scottish independence referendum
What viewers see when visiting a website requesting campaign donations for a Scottish independence referendum. The site is at the center of a controversy over embezzled funds. (Image: via

There was a time when the site definitively sought campaign contributions. Beginning in 2017, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, snapshots show it had a template for accepting donations.

That changed sometime this year. Beginning on or about March 11, the gambling page began appearing. That was about three weeks before police arrested Murrell.

The Scottish Sun attributes the site to Murrell, who reportedly created it in 2017. At the time, his wife, Nicola Sturgeon, was the head of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the First Minister of Scotland. After eight years, she resigned this past February. That was about two months before her husband’s arrest.

SNP is the largest political party in Scotland. The SNP supports and campaigns for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom and the European Union. Their platform is based on civic nationalism.

Police in Scotland arrested the SNP’s former CEO, Peter Murrell, and treasurer Colin Beattie following a two-year investigation earlier this month. They face accusations of taking around £666,953 (US$830,490) from the political party for their own benefit.

Speaking Out

Several politicians, including Tory MSP Annie Wells, hinted that the website only changed from one form of gambling to another.

The original version of the campaign website.
The original version of the campaign website. It was replaced sometime this past March with the new version. (Image: via

“There’s a real sense of irony, given pro-independence supporters asked Scots to take the biggest gamble possible in 2014 by breaking up a 300-year-old Union,” Wells said.

Another politician, a spokesperson for the Labour Party, quipped, “This web page has always been a gamble. The only difference now is the new one has better odds.”

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The referendum aimed to raise £1 million (US$1.24 million), part of which would be funded through the website. By 2020, it had raised £593,501 (US$749,027).

Police arrested Murrell and Beattie, but not Murrell’s wife, following a complaint that they had allegedly embezzled at least some of the money. As part of the investigation, police seized a motorhome registered to the SNP that was at the home of one of Murrell’s relatives. They also allegedly dug up the yard at the home Murrell shared with his wife, although they haven’t revealed what they found.

Police took Murrell into custody for questioning on April 5. Beattie was arrested 13 days later. After each spent about 12 hours in interrogation, they were released without charges.

Sturgeon never faced questioning, according to Sky News. She and current SNP leader Humza Yousaf have agreed to participate in any interrogation and open their books to forensic data scientists.

Yousaf, a former health secretary, is the First Minister of Scotland, and some believe the attack on the SNP may have responded to his bid to replace Sturgeon in that role at the end of March. His vision was allegedly aligned tightly with that of his predecessor.