Labour want inquiry over Michelle Thomson probe

Labour said there are 'serious questions' about the handling of the affair. Picture: PA
Labour said there are 'serious questions' about the handling of the affair. Picture: PA
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SCOTTISH Labour has called for an independent inquiry into how the Law Society of Scotland investigated property deals conducted by a solicitor linked to MP Michelle Thomson.

Christopher Hales was struck off by the Scottish Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal (SSDT) for professional misconduct in 13 deals between 2010 and 2011.

Prosecutors have now instructed police to carry out an investigation into “alleged irregularities” relating to the transactions following a complaint by the SSDT.

Ms Thomson has been linked with the property deals and has resigned the SNP whip until a police investigation into the activities of Mr Hales is concluded.

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At a press conference last week the Law Society of Scotland said it may look more deeply into the connection between a member of its staff and Ms Thomson.

Sheila Kirkwood was secretary to the Law Society of Scotland guarantee fund sub-committee that scrutinised the activities of Mr Hales.

It has also emerged that Ms Kirkwood was linked to the Lawyers for Yes independence campaign group, while Ms Thomson was a key figure in Business for Scotland - both pro-independence organisations set up during the referendum.

Labour said there are “serious questions” about the handling of the affair.

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The Law Society has already carried out a “thorough review” of its processes but said it would work with others “to underscore the full range of actions we took”.

Scottish Labour Public Services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Farce is not too strong a description of what’s gone on.

“For the Law Society to claim staff may not have known who Michelle Thomson was despite Sheila Kirkwood, secretary of the sub-committee which received the final report about Mr Hales’ activities, being a leading member of the pro-independence group Lawyers for Yes is difficult to swallow.

“The chief executive herself says she did not read the full report about Mr Hales, despite its unique importance.

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“She says they may need to look ‘more deeply’ into their handling of this matter and I agree but this needs to be an independent investigation into how the Law Society conducted such a high profile case.

“Letting them look again at their own mistakes will do nothing to improve public confidence in their abilities to investigate wrong doing by solicitors.”Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We have already initiated a thorough review of our processes to see what lessons can be learned.

“We will also be meeting with the Crown Office to agree on how information can be more easily and effectively shared in the future.

“We would work with any other reviews to underscore the full range of actions we took, not just in successfully ensuring Christopher Hales was struck off as a solicitor but also to alert other authorities in the public interest.”