WESTMINSTER’S standards watchdog is set to rule out an investigation into Michelle Thomson’s property deals – because they took place before she was an MP.
A Tory backbencher said this week he had written to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson, raising “serious questions” about the Edinburgh West politician’s suitability to be an MP.
But John Barrett, one of Ms Thomson’s predecessors in the seat, had already asked Ms Hudson to investigate and received a response from her office indicating an inquiry will not take place.
Ms Thomson quit the SNP group in the Commons after the row broke about her business dealings, which involved buying houses from vulnerable people 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 denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Barrett, who was Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West from 2001 until 2010, said he had asked Ms Hudson to investigate Ms Thomson.
He said he had been particularly concerned about the case of a family living in Edinburgh West reported to be facing financial difficulties because the husband had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Mr Barrett said: “I was shocked when I read the allegations, especially the story about the couple in Clermiston who were in financial straits because the husband had been diagnosed with cancer and they were approached to sell their house. This happened when I was MP for that area. Since retiring, I too was diagnosed with cancer.
“The idea people might take advantage of someone with cancer because they were in financial difficulties is staggering.”
However, Mr Barrett has now received a reply from Ms Hudson’s office.
The letter said: “The allegations relate to purchases made in 2009/10. Ms Thomson first became subject to the House of Commons Code of Conduct in May 2015, when she became a Member of Parliament. I do not, therefore, think that the Commissioner could investigate this matter.”