FM backs publication of Law Society documents linked to MP Thomson

  • Published
Michelle ThomsonImage source, Business for Scotland
Image caption,
Michelle Thomson withdrew from the SNP whip and will not be at the party's Aberdeen conference

Scotland's first minister would welcome publication by the Law Society of any documents related to MP Michelle Thomson whose business affairs have been queried.

Nicola Sturgeon gave the response following questioning at Holyrood.

Ms Thomson, who was elected an SNP MP in May but withdrew from the party whip last week, has denied any wrong doing.

The politician had been linked with property deals involving a solicitor who was struck off by the Law Society.

Christopher Hales was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Scottish Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal (SSDT) in May last year in connection with 13 transactions in 2010 and 2011.

Prosecutors have instructed police to carry out an investigation into "alleged irregularities" relating to property deals in the year 2010/11 after the case was referred to the Crown Office by the Law Society of Scotland.

All 13 of the transactions Mr Hales was struck off for involved Ms Thomson or M&F Property Solutions, a firm in which she was said to be a partner.

It has emerged the Law Society raised concerns about the case during meetings with prosecutors in December 2014 and April 2015, but did not formally submit evidence to the Crown until July 2015, after Ms Thomson's election.

Timeline into property transactions row

2015

  • 28 April - Mr Messer "informally" raises the Hales case again at the next quarterly Crown Office meeting. Clients' names are not discussed.
  • 7 May - Ms Thomson is elected as SNP MP for Edinburgh West
  • 1 July - Following a "detailed look" at the Hales case, the Law Society asked the GFSC for approval to refer it to the Crown.
  • 3 July - The Law Society formally presents the SSDT's unredacted Hales report to the Crown Office. Prosecutors are shown his clients' names for the first time.
  • 9 July - The Crown instructs Police Scotland to investigate Hales's property transactions.
  • 27 September - The Sunday Times publishes excerpts from the unredacted SSDT Hales Report naming Ms Thomson as his client. She denies any wrongdoing.
  • 31 September - Ms Thomson surrenders the SNP whip until police investigations into her links with Hales are concluded.
  • 1 October - Law Society chief executive Lorna Jack pledges to look more deeply into the delay in notifying the Crown of the Hales case and the links between Ms Thomson and Ms Kirkwood.
  • 6 October - Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland confirms the police investigation could be widened to encompass anyone suspected of criminality in the Hales transactions.

During First Minister's Questions on Thursday, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said there could be a perception "the Scottish establishment is closing ranks to protect one of its own".

The MSP said: "People have to have confidence that system treats everyone the same regardless of party or position.

"Will the first minister join me in calling on the Law Society to hold a proper independent external inquiry into this matter and to publish all papers relating to the delay?"

Ms Sturgeon stressed that the Law Society of Scotland was an "independent regulatory body", and if Ms Dugdale had questions she should put them directly to the organisation.

She continued: "I think the Law Society should answer all and any questions that are directed to it.

"I cannot answer on behalf of an independent organisation, but I would certainly welcome publication of any or all documents relating to this case."

The first minister went on to say that Ms Thomson, who is MP for Edinburgh West, would not be attending the Scottish National Party conference which takes place in Aberdeen next week.

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