MICHELLE Thomson stepped down from the SNP’s front-bench last night after it emerged that Police Scotland is to carry out a criminal investigation into alleged irregularities relating to property deals linked to the MP.
In a statement, Ms Thomson, the party’s business, innovation and skills spokeswoman, said she was aware of the police investigation and would “co-operate fully” if asked to do so.
This is now a serious problem for Nicola Sturgeon. Serious allegations have been made which could now be the subject of criminal proceedingsJackie Baillie
“I have always acted within the law and look forward to being cleared of any wrong doing,” she said. “I have this afternoon decided to withdraw from the party whip whilst an investigation takes place. Once the investigation is concluded I look forward to returning to play a full role in party activities.”
Her withdrawal from the whip means she is no longer a member of the parliamentary party and will not speak for the SNP on business issues at Westminster.
The investigation ordered by the Crown Office yesterday relates to property deals in 2010 and 2011 in which Ms Thomson used the services of solicitor Christopher Hales, who was struck off by the Scottish Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal for misconduct last year.
Mr Hales was found guilty of professional misconduct in carrying out 13 property deals on behalf of Ms Thomson and her business partner.
Official documents submitted to the tribunal hearing in May 2014 set out Ms Thomson’s involvement in the mortgage deals.
Last night the Crown Office confirmed that, after a complaint from the tribunal, it had asked Police Scotland to carry out an investigation into allegations of irregularities.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said “Police Scotland can confirm that it has been instructed by the Crown Office to carry out an investigation into alleged irregularities relating to property deals in the year 2010-2011.”
Ms Thomson was elected as SNP MP for Edinburgh West in May after a high-profile role during the independence referendum campaign as managing director of the pro-independence group, Business for Scotland.
She worked in financial services for 23 years before setting up her own property business in 2009.
Yesterday Labour said the allegations were now “a serious problem” for Nicola Sturgeon and called on Ms Thomson to state whether she would be interviewed by Police Scotland as part of the investigation.
Scottish Labour’s public service spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said: “Michelle Thomson’s former lawyer has already been struck off for professional misconduct.
“This is now a serious problem for Nicola Sturgeon. Serious allegations have been made which could now be the subject of criminal proceedings.”
The 53-page SDDT ruling states that the “central role of Michelle Thomson and M&F Property Solutions in a number of these transactions should have set alarm bells ringing”.
It said Mr Hales failed to provide mortgage companies with key information used to prevent fraud and must have been aware that there was a possibility he was facilitating mortgage fraud, whether or not it occurred.
In some cases, loans obtained for the properties were greater than the actual purchase price.
Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, confirming the body had reported the case, said: “We referred it formally to the Crown Office in July 2015.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The fact the police have been asked to investigate these deals shows how serious this has become.”
A Scottish LibDem spokeswoman, said: “Both Michelle Thomson and the SNP must cooperate fully with Police Scotland and the Crown Office in the course of their investigations.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “It is important that any allegations that are put forward in this matter are fully and comprehensively answered by Michelle Thomson.”