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First Minister ‘had no knowledge’ of MP Michelle Thomson’s business dealings

Michelle Thomson.
Michelle Thomson.

The SNP had no knowledge of MP Michelle Thomson’s business dealings when she was selected as a general election candidate for the party, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Ms Thomson’s membership of the SNP has been suspended after it emerged that police are investigating property deals conducted five years ago.

She has denied any wrongdoing and withdrew herself from the party whip at Westminster on Tuesday.

The First Minister said Ms Thomson had “done the right thing” while the “serious issues” are being investigated.

Speaking at Holyrood today, Ms Sturgeon said: “I had no knowledge of Michelle Thomson’s business dealings until, like everybody else, I read it in the Sunday Times.

“Serious issues have been raised here. Michelle Thomson maintains that all of her business dealings were entirely within the law.

“She is herself, as I understand it, not under investigation by the police at this stage.

“She has decided she wants to step aside from the SNP until this investigation is concluded and I think that is the right thing for her to have done.”

Asked if the situation was embarrassing for the party, Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t want to be in a situation where any elected representative is stepping aside because there is an investigation of any nature into aspects of their business dealings.

“I am not going to comment on detail that I am not in full knowledge of and (given) that there is a police investigation under way into aspects of property transactions, it would be inappropriate for me to do so.”

Ms Thomson has been linked with property deals involving Christopher Hales, a solicitor who was struck off by the Scottish Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal (SSDT) for professional misconduct involving 13 transactions in 2010 and 2011.

Prosecutors have now instructed police to carry out an investigation into “alleged irregularities” relating to property deals in the year 2010/11 following a complaint by the SSDT.

Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “The reputation of politics isn’t high at the best of times. We need full transparency from the SNP on this scandal.”

She also called for a statement to Parliament by the Lord Advocate.

Ms Baillie added: “There are already concerns about how the Crown Office has handled this case.

“We need to know what action was taken when the Law Society of Scotland first ‘informally’ made the Crown Office aware of its concerns about Michelle Thomson’s property deals in December 2014 and then formally in July 2015.

“We also need to know whether there were any delays between when the Crown Office was first made aware of the allegations and when it instructed Police Scotland to investigate. Nothing short of full transparency will be accepted by the public.”

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