Michelle Thomson's suitability as an MP called into question following property allegations
Jackie Baillie has suggests recent allegations could call into question Thomson’s future as an MP. But a spokesperson for Thomson said those who sold their homes were “relieved to finally get a sale of their property”.
Scottish Labour has raised concerns over Michelle Thomson’s suitability as an MP, following reports in the Sunday Times alleging the SNP’s shadow minister for business, innovation and skills was involved in property deals which allegedly took advantage of vulnerable families and led her solicitor to be struck off for professional misconduct.
Jackie Baillie has suggested the allegations could call into question Thomson’s future as an MP. But a spokesperson for Thomson said those who sold their homes were “relieved to finally get a sale of their property”.
The Sunday Times yesterday reported that Thomson’s solicitor, Christopher Hales, was struck off following a ruling by the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal in May 2014 – a year before Thomson was elected MP for Edinburgh West – after carrying out property deals on behalf of Thomson and her business partner.
Hales was found guilty of professional misconduct in 13 property deals – all of which involved Thomson or the property venture M&F Property Solutions.
In one instance the Sunday Times alleges that in June 2010 Thomson bought a house for £245,000, before selling it just hours later for £315,000.
The investigation claims that at least 17 homes in Scotland are either owned by Thomson, by her husband, or by the couple jointly.
The Tribunal ruling says the “central role of Michelle Thomson and M&F Property Solutions in a number of these transactions should have set alarm bells ringing”.
Scottish Labour's Public Services Spokesperson Jackie Baillie said that if the allegations are true, “then Michelle Thomson's suitability to continue as a SNP MP will be called into question”.
Baillie said: “At the heart of this story are vulnerable people who appear to have been taken advantage of. There must be thousands of families across the country in a similar situation, who have to sell their property out of desperation. We must do more to protect and support the victims.
“These are very serious allegations about an SNP MP who is at the heart of business policy decision making in the party. We need full transparency from the people at the very top of the SNP about who knew what and when.”
A spokesperson for Thomson said: “Miss Baillie misunderstands these transactions. Vendors who had being trying to sell, sometimes for years due to a lack of mortgage availability were relieved to finally get a sale of their property.
“Vendors signed the legal documents to enable a sale to go through and which are in the public domain. Several different solicitors served vendors or purchasers and were fully licensed and qualified to do so at that time.”
Baillie added: “Was the First Minister made aware of these allegations before they were made public? Did party officials know about these allegations before Michelle Thomson was selected as a candidate? Will Michelle Thomson remain on the front bench whilst these allegations are investigated?
“Given that her solicitor, who was acting on her behalf, has been struck off, we need to know whether Michelle Thomson has been interviewed by Police Scotland?”
“If these allegations are true then Michelle Thomson's suitability to continue as a SNP MP will be called into question.”
The Law Society of Scotland said it was examining the matter.
The Tribunal found that Hales has failed to comply with the requirements of the Council of Mortgage Lenders Handbook, failed to satisfy his common law duties when acting for a purchaser and lender, failed to comply with paragraph 3 of the Solicitors (Scotland) (Standards of Conduct) Practice Rules 2008, and failed to comply with Rule 6(1) of the Accounts Rule.
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