Nicola Sturgeon grilled over Michelle Thomson claims

Michelle Thomson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Michelle Thomson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Nicola Sturgeon has come under sustained pressure over Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson’s property business, with Labour claiming allegations were “a moral matter”.

Ms Thomson has been linked with property deals involving a solicitor who has since been struck off. She denies any wrongdoing and has withdrawn from the SNP group at Westminster while she seeks to clear her name.

Her solicitor, Aamer Anwar, yesterday issued a statement saying she had offered to help police with their inquiries. Questioned at Holyrood by Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Ms Sturgeon said Ms Thomson was entitled to a presumption of innocence and the police investigation should be allowed to take its course.

But Ms Dugdale said: “This is also a moral matter. What we have here is vulnerable families losing out for the financial gain of others, vulnerable people being taken advantage of, as their homes are snapped up at knockdown prices.

“Can I ask the First Minister, does she agree with me that profiteering from vulnerable families is just plain wrong?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Kezia Dugdale, I hope would accept that my commitment to social justice, and helping vulnerable people, like hers, is beyond any question.”

The First Minister said the SNP did not know about the MP’s business dealings until reports emerged in newspapers.

She said it was “ridiculous” to suggest any party would knowingly field a candidate if there were serious problems about their integrity.

But Ms Dugdale said Ms Sturgeon knew now. “She knows that an elected representative in her party acted in a way that is unacceptable.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson also pressed the First Minister on Ms Thomson’s property deals and whether “on the basis of ethics and integrity alone” she would be welcomed back to the SNP frontbench.

Ms Sturgeon said she was in no doubt that if the allegations proved to be correct, they would represent behaviour she found “completely unacceptable”, but it would be “unfair and inappropriate” to pre-judge the outcome when someone was maintaining their innocence.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com