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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Police probe continues as struck-off solicitor linked to MP's property portfolio

There is still no word on when a police investigation will report on alleged irregularities said to involve the buy to let portfolio of MP Michelle Thomson.

The investigation is into property transactions in 2010 and 2011. The Scotsman newspaper says “Thomson’s property deals involved the ‘back to back’ buying and selling of houses owned by vulnerable people. They were bought at below full-market value and then resold at far higher prices, often on the same day.”

Various media reports suggest that solicitor Christopher Hales was struck off last year for professional misconduct; the BBC says that it appears that all 13 of the transactions he was struck off for involved Thomson or a company called M&F Property Solutions in which she was said to be a partner.

It emerged over the weekend that in 2011 the Law Society of Scotland submitted a suspicious activity report to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency following investigations which ultimately led to Hales being struck off three years later.

The Law Society raised its concerns informally with the Crown Office in December last year but then made a formal referral about three months ago. It is this reference to the Crown Office which has prompted the police investigation.

A complaint about Thomson made to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards by former Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett will not be investigated because the allegations related to in the complaint occured before she became an MP.

Thomson, MP for Edinburgh West, has denied any wrongdoing.

On Twitter on October 1 she retweeted a press statement issued by Aamer Anwar, a solicitor acting on her behalf, which read:

“Over the last few days individuals have demanded full transparency from the SNP and the First Minister as to what they knew of the detailed nature of Michelle Thomson’s business dealing some several years before she became an MP - the simple answer is none at all.

“Michele Thomson maintains that she has always acted within the law. In the interests of her constituents and her party she thought it best if she voluntarily withdrew from the party whip.

“There was no requirement for her to do so, even though she knew it would automatically lead to her suspension from the party. She did so in order to clear her name and return as soon as possible to front line politics.

“To that purpose we have contacted Police Scotland at Mrs Thomson’s request advising them of her wish to assist with their investigation if or when they wish to speak to her.

“In the meantime we would strongly advise those who should know better to tread extremely carefully and not prejudice a live investigation.

“We have advised Mrs Thomson that it is important that no further comment is made on these matters until the investigation is concluded.

“The last week has been an extremely difficult one and Michelle is grateful for all the message of support. She maintains her commitment to the ideals of the SNP and will continue to work on behalf of her constituents.”

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