Michelle Thomson says she aims to clear her name

Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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MP Michelle Thomson has voluntarily suspended herself from SNP while an investigation into alleged irregularities involving property deals completed on her behalf.

Ms Thomson, MP for Edinburgh West, has withdrawn from the party whip amid a probe into the transactions, which took place in 2010 and 2011, and led to a solicitor being struck off by the Law Society of Scotland. It then referred the case to the Crown Office, which has ordered police to investigate.

Over the last few days individuals have demanded full transparency from the SNP and the First Minister as to what they knew of the detailed nature of Michelle Thomson’s business dealings several years before she became an MP- the simple answer is none at all.”

Aamer Anwar

The Evening News understands that initial inquiries will not involve Ms Thomson, who was the party’s business spokeswoman at Westminster and has denied any wrongdoing.

A statement released by her solitior, Aamer Anwar, said: “Over the last few days individuals have demanded full transparency from the SNP and the First Minister as to what they knew of the detailed nature of Michelle Thomson’s business dealings several years before she became an MP- the simple answer is none at all.

“Michelle Thomson maintains that she has always acted within the law.

“In the interests of her constituents and her party she thought it best if she voluntarily withdrew from the party whip.

“There was no requirement for her to do so, even though she knew it would automatically lead to her suspension from the party. She did so in order to clear her name and return as quickly as possible to the front line politics.

“To that purpose we have contacted Police Scotland at Mrs Thomson’s request advising them of her wish to assist with their investigation if or when they wish to speak to her.

“In the meantime we would strongly advise those who should know better, to tread extremely carefully and not prejudice a live investigation.

“We have in the meantime advised Mrs Thomson that it is important that no further comment is made on these matters until the investigation is concluded.

“The last week has been an extremely difficult one and Michelle is grateful for all the messages of support. She maintains her commitment to the ideals of the SNP and will continue to work on behalf of her constituents.”

Ms Thomson’s suspension has sparked fears that Edinburgh West constituents are now effectively “disenfranchised” and without proper parliamentary representation.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Liberal Democrat candidate for Edinburgh Western in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, said: “Every week that goes on with Michelle Thomson effectively suspended from parliamentary life is a week that constituents of Edinburgh West are disenfranchised in the House of Commons.

“Notwithstanding any criminality that may or may not be proven, there are some pretty worrying business practices in play here which see very vulnerable people apparently having to part with property at knock-down prices.

“And for somebody who’s been championing the cause of the poor and dispossessed in this country, Michelle Thomson has some serious questions to answer about those practices.”

Resident representatives said they wanted to see speedy completion of the police probe.

Reginald Kingman, member of Drum Brae Community Council, said: “As far as I’m concerned, she has done the right thing in withdrawing until it’s all sorted. Resolution of this has got to happen quickly.”

Councillor Jeremy Balfour, Conservative member for Corstorphine-Murrayfield, said: “I’m sure that we would expect Michelle Thomson to serve everyone within the constituency until these allegations have been fully investigated.

“I think this needs to be done as speedily as possible and, depending on what is found, appropriate action should be taken. She’s still an MP and still has the full rights and responsibilities of an MP.

“In the short term, I don’t see withdrawal from the whip as being a problem, but if it drags on for a long period of time, it would cause more problems.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com