Parliament watchdog to probe SNP MP Phil Boswell tax claims

Phil Boswell, SNP MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill. Picture: Contributed
Phil Boswell, SNP MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill. Picture: Contributed
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Westminster’s standards watchdog has launched a probe into an SNP MP over claims that he failed to declare financial interests.

Phil Boswell, who represents Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, is to be investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards following a complaint that he contravened parliamentary rules by failing to properly record his directorship of Boswell & Johnston Ltd.

Commissioner Kathryn Hudson can refer the case to Parliament’s committee on standards if she finds there has been a serious breach and MPs would then decide what sanctions he faced.

Mr Boswell faced criticism last year when it emerged that he benefited from a tax loophole by receiving an interest-free loan of £18,000 while working for US energy company Phillips 66 – something he called a “common practice” in the industry.

READ MORE - SNP MP Phil Boswell facing inquiry over earnings

The claims pose potential fresh embarrassment for the SNP, which has already seen two MPs – Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson – resign the party whip since the general election.

Ms McGarry denied any wrongdoing after police investigations were launched into missing donations from the pro-independence group, Women for Independence,which she founded.

A police inquiry has also been launched into a lawyer, who has been struck of by the legal authorities, involved in property deals linked to Ms Thomson’s firm.

An SNP spokesman said: “Phil Boswell sought advice from the Register of Interests and as the rules set out by the Commissioner for Standards make clear, their inquiry does not imply that there has been a breach of the rules of the House.”

Scottish Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Yet more allegations of dodgy dealings does nothing for the credibility of the SNP. The SNP obviously need to look at their vetting procedures, as there seems to be a lot of undesirables slipping through the net.

READ MORE - Investigation urged into tax claims against SNP MP

“When the Nationalists came to power they promised whiter than white politics, however, their halo is slipping as the scandals get murkier by the day.”

Labour parliamentary business manager James Kelly also welcomed the investigation but also called for First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to order an SNP probe.

He added: “At the very least Phil Boswell is guilty of the the worst kind of hypocrisy, grandstanding against tax avoidance in Westminster whilst using schemes to avoid tax himself.

“We are seeing a number of SNP MPs who will say one thing for political purposes but do another in their private business dealings. This is important; politicians should practice what they preach.