Who is Peter Murrell and how did he end up as SNP chief executive?

The inner workings of political parties are generally shrouded in shadow from the general public. No-one needs to know who's in charge and pulling the levers behind the scenes when the politicians currying favour and votes like to be in the limelight.

SNP chief executive Peter Murrell is married to Nicola Sturgeon.

But there are times when the curtain is pulled back and the Wizard of Oz is found to be just a bloke in an M&S suit.

The public might have heard of Peter Murrell previously, given that he is married to the First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, but few would probably have been able to pick him out of a line-up, despite him being one of the most powerful SNP figures outside of Holyrood and Westminster.

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Until now. He has been forced, blinking, into the light as a result of the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into the government’s handling of the sexual harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond, and has been accused of misleading the MSPs on the committee inquiry around a meeting held at his home between his wife and Mr Salmond.

His name has also been mentioned in dispatches in connection to the internal strife the SNP is experiencing around the issue of women’s right and trans rights, with rising anger the party has not been dealing with complaints from members.

The 56-year-old grew up in one of Edinburgh’s more leafy suburbs of Corstorphine, and went to Craigmount High, before studying at Glasgow University in the mid 1980s.

A job as a PR officer with the Church of Scotland was quickly shelved by the life-long SNP member when he was invited to run Alex Salmond’s Banff and Buchan constituency office. There he helped to organise SNP youth weekends, meeting an 18-year-old Nicola Sturgeon for the first time at one such event in 1988. He moved to an administrative role at the party's Edinburgh headquarters and when Mike Russell resigned as SNP chief executive in 1999, Mr Salmond made sure his former trusted organiser was catapulted into the top job.

He made his mark as a "calming influence” when inter-party strife marked the troubled reign of now-Deputy First Minister John Swinney as leader of the SNP from 2000-04, though others say his “behind-the-scenes meddling” saw him earn the nickname “Penfold” – a reference to Danger Mouse’s sidekick in the cartoon series.

He and Ms Sturgeon became a couple in 2003, and so were together when she pulled out of a leadership bid in 2004, and threw in her lot with Mr Salmond, who wanted to return as leader. In so doing, he defeated her friend Roseanna Cunningham and Ms Sturgeon became deputy leader. The pair married in 2010.

Murrell was also an important figure in setting up key internal changes that transformed the SNP from an opposition party to one which has governed Scotland for nearly 14 years, and was central to the now-infamous Craigellachie Hotel summit in 2005, at which senior SNP figures resolved to ensure the SNP won the 2007 Scottish election.

However, since the fallout of the Salmond judicial review and criminal trial, he has come came under pressure to resign, with questions raised by SNP members about whether having a husband and wife team running the party is healthy.

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