A trio of embarrassments for the SNP

This week has not been a good one for Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson. For the third week running, the Sunday Times has reported on property transactions which are now being investigated by the Police. The solicitor who acted for Michelle Thomson’s company in many of these transactions was struck off last year. You can read the whole judgement in that matter here. It is also worth reading Labour blogger and solicitor Ian Smart’s commentary on the allegations contained within it.

Today’s paper highlights (£) a couple who had to sell their house after the husband was diagnosed with a bowel tumour which left him unable to work.

The inquiry is now likely to look into a transaction in 2009 that is unrelated to Hales. It involved a property firm linked to Michelle Thomson that arranged for her husband Peter to buy a flat in Edinburgh.

The sellers, Garry and Sandra Kelly, claim £32,000 was deducted from the purchase price of £105,000 to pay off a loan they say they never had. On Friday, this newspaper alerted Police Scotland’s financial crime unit to the transaction.

The transactions are now under police investigation and, earlier this week, Thomson stepped down from her role as the SNP’s business spokesperson and temporarily resigned from the whip. However, it appears that even if there were no illegality, the accounts from the people whose houses were bought by her company are damaging on their own. From today’s Sunday Mail:

Christine and Billy Troy were also furious after learning the sale of their Paisley home is being probed, too.

Christine, 60, said: “You’d think you can trust people who deal with your house sale but we just feel stung.

“You hope you might get a little nest egg from your property and instead we get this. It’s disgusting.

“We are really angry. We are left asking how people can act in this way and treat people like this?”

“Any money we got from the sale was to go towards our retirement. We’ve just been left totally disgusted.”

The Troys’ case features as Transaction 7 in the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal report into Hales which reveals the purchase price of their one-bed property was £55,000, £17,500 more than the couple got.

Christine said: “That flat was our retirement plan.

I was also interested in this Sunday Herald report about her involvement in Business for Scotland. Apparently there was trouble in paradise. What intrigues me most, though, is that these organisations like Women for Independence and Business for Scotland (which is a deeply offensive name as it assumes that Scotland is synonymous with independence) were supposed to be completely separate stand-alone organisations yet SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell apparently got involved in the rows at one stage.

Thomson won the Edinburgh West seat by a comparatively narrow margin of 3200 from Liberal Democrat Mike Crockart. The incumbent SNP MSP was deselected by the local party earlier in the Summer and a candidate backed by Alex Salmond put in his place. The next scheduled election in the seat is the Holyrood poll in May 2016 at which Alex Cole-Hamilton is our candidate. Regular readers may wish to keep an eye on Alex’s website and help him out if they can.

Second MP under spotlight

It now appears that a second SNP MP’s past conduct is being called into question. Scotland on Sunday has an article about Paul Monaghan, who ousted our John Thurso in May.

The report quoted a statement from the then Highland Regional Council, which said: “At a private meeting of the registration panel, certain matters relating to the suitability of those running the home were discussed and the owners of Balmoral Lodge were notified of the decision to move to deregistration. They have 14 days to show reason why this should not happen.”

Another press report, published a year later, claimed the MP’s father, Bill, had his licence withdrawn and Monaghan had been “banned” from having “any day-to-day control” of the home.

Yesterday Monaghan denied this was the case, saying: “I was not banned from having control of the care home. In fact my registration continued until the care home was sold. At that point I gave up the care home registration.”

Monaghan’s cybernatty tweets have also raised eyebrows in recent months.

Storm in a T-in-the-Park?

SNP Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is at the centre of a cronyism scandal after being hauled before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about why she gave £150,000 of taxpayers’ money to the company behind the highly successful and profitable T in the Park festival. Jennifer Dempsie, a former special adviser and partner of SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, set up the meeting between the company and the minister.

Opposition MSPs, including the Liberal Democrats’ Liam McArthur have expressed dissatisfaction with Ms Hyslop’s answers and want her to be questioned again by the committee.

From the scandalous to the ridiculous

Caron and Robert PicardoThis last one is just in for the laughs. When I first read this a couple of hours ago, I thought it must be a joke, but it appears on several reputable websites in addition to the Daily Mail’s. Apparently Alex Salmond has a habit of booking airline tickets in the name of James T Kirk and he was a bit surprised when the check-in staff at Heathrow wouldn’t let him board the plane because his passport said Alex Salmond.  Why would it even occur to anyone to do this? Would you not need a highly overblown sense of your own importance to even think about it?

This means that Trek fandom is the one thing that the former First Minister and I have in common. Having said that, Kirk is probably my least favourite character  across all series of the franchise. Give me Jean-Luc Picard and his love of Earl Grey any day. At least this gives me a tenuous excuse to post the picture I had taken with Robert Picardo, who played the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager, at Glasgow’s MCM Comic Con last weekend.

The SNP are learning the hard way, as others, including the Liberal Democrats, have learned before, that saying you’re different to all those other politicians is bound to end in tears.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Richard Underhill 4th Oct '15 - 9:25pm

    Apparently he used this name and his security people would explain, but now he is no longer First Minister.
    This sounds rather American, where previous Presidents, Ambassadors etc are awarded a courtesy title after they are ex.
    Or maybe has has an ego.

  • Unbelievably, Caron is actually recommending you read what Ian Smart says. Caron is well know for complaining about “abuse” on the internet including in comments on this site. Yet, Ian Smart was actually suspended from the Labour Party for posting intemperate and abusive stuff on the internet. Vile. Read about some of it here…


  • Andrew McCaig 4th Oct '15 - 10:50pm


    Suggest you just read the Scottish Law Society judgement then if you don’t like Ian Smart.

    Perhaps you can explain to us how “Mrs A” was doing nothing wrong while her solicitor was being struck off?

  • John Barrett 4th Oct '15 - 10:59pm

    If no crime has been committed it is still an outrage that Michelle Thomson and her husband have been buying up properties from victims of cancer who have fallen into financial hardship, for well below the market value and in some cases reselling the properties later the same day for significantly more than the cancer victim was paid.

    Apparently the question of mortgage fraud is now being looked into, as the law society report indicates that fraud may have taken place.

    For anyone wondering how serious mortgage fraud is, it is worth noting the sentencing guidelines below.

    Value of Fraud: Significant but less than £17,500
    Guidelines After Contested Trial: Very short custodial to 21 months

    Value of Fraud: £17,500 to £100,000
    Guidelines After Contested Trial: 2 – 3 years

    Value of Fraud: £100,000 to £250,000
    Guidelines After Contested Trial: 3 – 4 years

    Value of Fraud: £250,000 to £1 million
    Guidelines After Contested Trial: 5 – 9 years

    Value of Fraud: £1 million or more
    Guidelines After Contested Trial: 10 years or more

  • There are a few events companies capable of holding T in the Park. If the present company made more than £150,000 profit then perhaps they could pay the money back.

  • When someone is a “successful business person” perhaps political parties should examine how they became so successful. If they have run a manufacturing business or retail or a professional practice that is one thing. The problem with the property market is that there is great temptation to cut corners.

  • Caron, I’d go easy on this sort of stuff. Every party has had dodgy donors and M.P. s. …. including us…… And I’m not going to name them here.

    If there is a byelection in Edinburgh West events will have spoken for themselves.

  • Maybe a problem for the SNP. BUT the Scottish Liberal Democrats, what changes, differences, something new are they offering? This is what we should be focussing on, OURSELVES. In Scotland we appear, since the General Election to be declining even further. WE need new ideas, new personalities and new policies. It is only 6 months to the Assembly campaign. Do we want to be wiper out?

  • chrisjsmart 5th Oct '15 - 11:19am

    I found the links to Ian Smart’s articles fascinating and very informative. It’s a pity we cannot read the views of our own learned Lord as he is still currently banned from participating in these columns for some undefined transgression. Greenwood recently came under fire for some comments which were then removed so I couldn’t judge how bad they were. The subject of the comments seemed to have held her own and had plenty of support from others – an apology would have cleared the air without resorting to after the event censorship. The archives of Lib Dem Voice are compromised in so doing.
    I dont like a lot of comments and some people appear more noxious than they really are. This is supposed to be a grown up debating arena so surely we can live with it and if someone is totally out of line then they can be jumped on by other commentators. Poorly judged Private emails to staff members can be referred to the party for judicial action if warranted.
    Please review the editorial policy and please rescind the ban on our noble lord – I miss his input.

  • Chrisjsmart “Greenwood recently came under fire for some comments which were then removed so I couldn’t judge how bad they were. The subject of the comments seemed to have held her own and had plenty of support from others – an apology would have cleared the air without resorting to after the event censorship. The archives of Lib Dem Voice are compromised in so doing.”

    Hello I am “the subject” of whom you speak. First of all, I’d like to say how very moved I was by all the spontaneous support from other posters, it actually brought a tear to my eye. It shows what a great place LDV is.

    On your main point, I agree with you. I actually did not think Greenwood’s comment was that bad – certainly not so very bad that it needed removing. I was shocked to find that it had been deleted.

    In the past five years or so that I have been posting in LDV, I have only encountered one poster who made me feel ‘unsafe” on here with very personal and untrue posts which became increasingly menacing. I reported his comments to the Mods and Paul Walter immediately reassured me, deleted his comments and I never saw that poster again on LDV (thanks Paul). I think this is a very good mechanism . Like you, I am against post event deleting of comments except in extreme circumstances such as that one. However the Mods are in a difficult position. Not so long ago, someone made what some posters felt was a racist statement and some people complained that this comment was left on the site whilst others argued that it was better left on here so that it could be challenged. People felt quite bruised I think and I don’t envy the Moderators at all. They are often in a difficult position.

    Greenwood’s comment to me was not in that category. For clarification, what he said was something like ” oh please Phyllis, stop. I hope you don’t believe half the things you post. You need a new hobby”. I honestly don’t think it was worth removing – sorry!

  • PHIL THOMAS 5th Oct '15 - 2:48pm

    What about the Orkney and Shetland MP you don’t like discussing ?

  • David Raw took the words right out of my mouth. Leaving aside the only fact known to date, which is that none of us know the facts, is this what Libdems are reduced to? I must have missed the events of the last week that saw problems in the NHS, Police Scotland and Education all solved. Cheap political point scoring is a very dangerous game. It’s also the resort of the desperate and the unprincipled. I would like to think most people, from most parties, are better than that. Apparently not. Further obscurity beckons.

  • Whatever happend to innocent until proved guilty as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rightly said there is an investigation taking place and until it is concluded and all the facts are known reasonable people will keep an open mind as to the outcome and that seems only fair to me. SNP are handling the issue fairly and the lady in question has acted with dignity stepping down from the whip and accepting the party suspension until the outcome of the investigation. Well done SNP.

  • Julian Tisi 6th Oct '15 - 9:20am

    “Well done SNP” … I’m not so sure. Probably an even more damaging episode was that of Bill Walker http://ianssmart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/zero-tolerance-not-if-youre-in-snp.html

  • By Election Highlands Council this week, Aird and Loch Ness. This is what we should be writing about. We have or had a councillor in that ward in 2012, which I believe is a four seater. Let us ee what happens to the 2012 Lib Dem vote and then comment about matters.

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