EMBATTLED MP Michelle Thomson is bidding to open a new constituency office – as a spokeswoman insisted she had “no intention” of standing down.
In a move interpreted as indicating a “business as usual” stance, Ms Thomson wants to convert a window-sellers in St John’s Road, Corstorphine, into a dedicated workspace with room for three members of staff.
She is currently based at temporary accommodation in Conference House, Morrison Street.
Ms Thomson quit the SNP group in the Commons after the row broke about her business dealings, which involved buying houses at below full market value and selling them at far higher prices, sometimes on the same day.
A solicitor who acted for her has been struck off for professional misconduct.
Ms Thomson, MP for Edinburgh West, denies any wrongdoing and has expressed her desire to have her SNP membership reinstated once a police investigation into the deals has concluded.
Political opponents have attacked the length of time taken to file the new planning application, which they said amounted to showing “contempt” for her constituents.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, Lib Dem candidate for Edinburgh Western in next year’s Scottish Parliament vote, said: “We have not heard from Michelle Thomson, in terms of leaflets and correspondence, since she was elected our MP.
“Even were she not plagued by scandal, to open an office nearly six months after an election shows a level of contempt for her duties as an MP.
“There has been a thin attempt to try and suggest that she is attending to her duties without being encumbered by the investigation in which she is involved.
“But many of her constituents have told me of their concerns at the very serious, unanswered questions about her business practices.”
He added: “As the investigation into her former solicitor unfolds, Michelle Thomson will be dragged further and further away from her constituents.”
However, a spokeswoman for Ms Thomson has rejected the criticisms, insisting that it had been “extraordinarily difficult” to locate suitable premises. And she said the MP was determined to carry on serving constituents despite the ongoing row over her business dealings.
She said: “Michelle has made it very clear that her first priority is to serve her constituents – she is absolutely committed to continuing that role and has no intention of standing down.
“The application process has been extended by the fact that we need to get a change of use and that has held things up for a bit longer than we hoped.
“There are several Scottish MPs who have taken the option of a temporary office contract – we have all found it extraordinarily difficult to secure premises that will meet the needs of the appropriate constituency MP.
“In the meantime, Michelle is running surgeries at various locations so people can bring their problems to her on a regular basis.”