Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she had “no knowledge” about the past business dealings of the SNP MP Michelle Thomson, whose membership has been suspended while claims about property deals carried out on her behalf are investigated by police.
Ms Thomson, who became the SNP’s business spokeswoman at Westminster following her election in May, left the party whip on Tuesday amid a Police Scotland investigation into a string of property deals conducted by solicitor Christopher Hales five years ago.
Mr Hales has been struck off for his part in 13 separate transactions in 2010 and 2011, for failing to supply information to mortgage companies which, in some cases, the Scottish Solicitors Tribunal found, may or may not have facilitated mortgage fraud. Ms Thomson, the MP for Edinburgh West, has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted she “always acted within the law”,
Asked about the allegations at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said she had “no knowledge” of Ms Thomson’s business dealings until she read about the claims in a Sunday newspaper. The SNP leader added that the MP had had “done the right thing” in stepping aside while the “serious issues” were investigated.
“She is herself, as I understand it, not under investigation by the police at this stage. She has decided she wants to step aside from the SNP until this investigation is concluded and I think that is the right thing for her to have done,” Ms Sturgeon said.
Asked whether the incident was embarrassing for the SNP, the First Minister replied: “I don’t want to be in a situation where any elected representative is stepping aside because there is an investigation of any nature into aspects of their business dealings, so clearly, it’s not a situation I would have chosen.”
Scottish Labour said the SNP should “come clean” about what its senior leadership knew about the allegations, and when. “The reputation of politics isn’t high at the best of times. We need full transparency from the SNP on this scandal,” said the party’s MSP Jackie Baillie, who also called for the Lord Advocate to give a statement to the Scottish Parliament.