"Back-to-back" property transactions and Michelle Thomson MP: a perplexing tale

Discussion in 'Scotland/Alba' started by danny la rouge, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    - What does it all mean?

    (The ominously named) Part 1

    Some of you may be aware of the scandal involving Michelle Thomson, one of the new batch of MPs elected in May.

    She was elected as an SNP MP, but is currently serving as an independent, having either resigned the party whip, or having been told to (the sequence of her public statements would suggest the latter).

    If you follow Scottish politics in the social media, you will be aware of claim and counter claim. "Cybernats" saying the whole investigation is politically motivated. Others saying that that's what "cybernats" always say. And so on. And not just in the social media. The print press, the letters pages, the radio, all have something, often something ill-informed, to add to the confusion.

    So, what to make of it all?

    The background

    The gist is that a solicitor, Christopher Hales, was struck off for failing to provide information to mortgage companies that he knew he had a duty to provide. (Solicitors have a duty to provide that information because that information is used as an indicator that mortgage fraud may be occurring). It is his duty to provide that information whether or not fraud had actually taken place. And it was for that failure that he was struck off.

    The transactions (13 of them) took place in 2010 and 2011, and he was struck off in 2014, after a hearing in May of that year. Unknown solicitor struck off. Not big news.

    However, it has since emerged (in late September this year) that all of the transactions he was deemed to be in failure over were transactions carried out on behalf of Michelle Thomson's property company.

    It's important to note that Hales would have been struck off even if those transactions turn out not to have been fraudulent; his failure was in not providing certain information. And further, it is important to note that Thomson has not been charged with anything.

    But that doesn't mean that this isn't a story, or that it does not raise questions.

    So what is "back-to-back" fraud?

    I'd never heard of "back-to-back" mortgage fraud, and frankly, even reading the story in the media, I couldn't understand what it was that was at the bottom of this.

    Then I came upon Dr Andrew Tickell's blog on the matter. Tickell, who blogs as "Lallands Peat Worrier", is a legal academic, and also an SNP supporter. He blogs on legal matters of political interest, but despite his known sympathies, is usually fairly dispassionate about how the law is to be interpreted in these cases. (He has been useful on the Carmichael case, for example, because while his sympathies have been with the Orkney petitioners, he provides realistic analysis of their chances).

    So, health warnings noted, here's the tweet that alerted me to his blog. An article he says he felt compelled to write because ... "the sheer weight of guff circulating in the public domain on this warrants a small, measured intervention". I know how he feels.

    And the blog: Lallands Peat Worrier: Mortgage fraud
    equationgirl and two sheds like this.
  2. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Part 2.

    Having read Tickell – and putting to one side for now his points at the end about Jackie Bailley – that’s hopefully now all a bit clearer.

    Here’s the key passage:

    “The Tribunal had no hesitation in making a finding of professional misconduct. There were numerous breaches of the CML Handbook in respect of 13 different transactions involving an ongoing course of conduct which continued for a period of over one year. The Tribunal has made it clear on numerous occasions that institutional lenders are clients of Respondents in the same way as any other clients and are owed the same duties of care. The CML Handbook has been instituted to help prevent mortgage fraud and emphasise the reporting duties on the part of solicitors.

    In this case the Respondent had a clear duty to report the back to back transactions, cash backs, increases in prices and deposits being provided by a third party to the lender. These matters would have been very likely to have had a material effect on the lender’s decision to lend. The Tribunal consider that the features of these transactions were such that the Respondent must have been aware that there was a possibility that he was facilitating mortgage fraud, whether or not this actually occurred. He generated fees on the basis of allowing this to occur. It must have been glaringly obvious to the Respondent that something was amiss when cash backs of £27,000 or £28,000 from the seller to the purchaser were involved.

    Even if you read this paragraph - and only this paragraph - from the decision - it scotches the idea that this is an empty and partisan scandal whipped up by a hostile media. There may be a good explanation for these transactions. There may be no wrongdoing here whatever. But Hales was kicked out of the legal profession because his failure to observe the rules may well have covered up behaviour characteristic of mortgage fraud. Of course there had to be a police investigation. Lawyers are facilitators and professional functionaries. We don't know why Mr Hales failed to keep the mortgage providers properly informed. Only by being investigated thoroughly will the answers to these questions become clear.”​

    Tickell is absolutely right about this. And frankly, the “cybernats” who are still saying otherwise are self-deluding drones who will attack anything they deem to be an attack on the SNP, even things they would be the first to pounce on were another party involved.

    What questions should be asked of the SNP?

    But I think this goes further than even Tickell suggests. Even if Thomson’s transactions were perfectly legal – and they may well have been – what sort of picture does it paint of the party that this kind of business is the business of their business spokesperson? It does not reflect at all well on the party, I’d suggest.

    In fact, Iain MacWhirter, the pro-independence political journalist, has suggested much the same, and has been howled down and denounced as a Unionist dupe for his troubles. But he’s right. The SNP painted itself as spotless and pure. As a new broom. As pro-working class even. Well, this kind of business transaction doesn’t speak well of their attitude to business or housing.

    Further than that, the reaction of many of the “45” on social media does not reflect well on them either.

    Here’s one of the milder contributions:

    Having read up on the type of transaction we’re talking about, does it sound like something the business spokesperson of a “pro-working class”, pro-good housing policy, spotless and pure party should be proud of? If Michelle Mone was doing this, would it be something you’d applaud?

    Frankly, “acceptable and quite normal” in business or not, it gives me the boke. And if the SNP knew about it, it doesn’t say much for their attitude to business policy, and if they didn’t, it doesn’t say much for their quality control.

    Remember, the SNP didn’t sell itself as “not quite as bad as Labour”, but as a clean sweep. So the attitude of their supporters doesn’t really do them any favours.

  3. Belushi

    Belushi 01 811 8055 R.I.P.

    Can you just tell me whether you think she's a wrong 'un danny? that would be good enough for me :D
  4. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    I think she's a wrong 'un, regardless of whether the transactions were fraudulent. (She hasn't been charged with anything, and even if she were to be, we must presume innocence. But that is besides the point.)
  5. Belushi

    Belushi 01 811 8055 R.I.P.

    I've read it now danny and yeah, "here comes the new boss.."
    danny la rouge likes this.
  6. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Once the investigation is over, the stance of the SNP towards her and her dealings should be examined closely.
  7. killer b

    killer b Nostrofuckingdamus

    seems more 'depressingly familiar' than perplexing, danny. Including the supposed left-wingers lining up to defend her.
  8. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Ah, yes, the fall out. But the "perplexing" was in reference to the arcane nature of the details. I was, until Tickell clarified it for me, baffled by the details.
  9. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Some of the "45" becoming so paranoid over this story that they're even turning on the National, the only daily paper to support independence. Apparently it's a front to fund its Unionist sister papers.

    The absurdity of this convoluted paranoia shows just how poor some of these people's politics is. The reason that the National was launched was simply that there was a market opportunity. 45% of the largest turnout ever seen voted Yes, and the company thought "Oh, there's a market that we're missing" (or more likely somebody within the company pitched the idea. Probably someone who voted Yes). There's no secret cabal deliberately channelling nationalist money to unionist causes. Only capitalists making money. Read some Marx then some Chomsky, ffs. Not even the "difficult" stuff.

    weepiper and Belushi like this.
  10. weepiper

    weepiper Jock under the bed

    That kind of shit makes me despair a bit tbh danny.
    danny la rouge likes this.
  11. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    What does she have to say about these transactions? Has she proffered a reason for the connectedness?
  12. 8den

    8den No I'm pretty sure that was 8ball...

    My question is "whats a cybernat?" and will we see them in next weeks Doctor Who
    muscovyduck and Frankie Jack like this.
  13. prunus

    prunus Mostly gone

    Zealots are always blind.
  14. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    a) A derogatory term for a pro independence supporter who uses social media. Often sandwiched, in the Scottish press, by the prefix "vile" and the suffix "troll".
    b) Been done.
    8den likes this.
  15. DaveCinzano


    Sadducee is what you get
  16. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    To find that pun, you didn't go far, I see.
  17. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    She's my mum's MP and she's been complaining about her selling ex-council properties to 'English property investors' since before she was elected (my mum voted yes in the ref but Labour in the election). Mum was very surprised that this hadn't been a hot topic in the news down here and is very upset about it. She does, to be frank, sound like a horrible piece of work and not someone I'd vote for.
    danny la rouge likes this.
  18. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Initially she said "I've done nothing wrong". Now she says "I'm cooperating with the police investigation". Now that there is a police investigation, we wouldn't really expect her to comment.

    As to your second question, I'm not sure what it means.
  19. TheHoodedClaw

    TheHoodedClaw acknowledging ur soup leg

    Don't ever look at the Scottish Resistance FB page.
  20. DexterTCN

    DexterTCN Official Twitter Liaison Officer

    Danny starts another shit-throwing thread with selective quotes and faulty logic, deliberately leaving out fact after fact.

    Anyone who disagrees is already tarred a cybernat :rolleyes: in the first post.

    The urban discussion of what's happening in Scotland is pathetic. Nasty, superior and deaf.

    Danny's missed out some rather major bits in his quotes...and has totally, deliberately, left out most of the relevant commentary as well in order to enforce his opinion.

    What's she being investigated for, Danny? Honestly...tell urbanites specifically what she's being investigated for. :)

    Where's your Carmichael thread?
    danny la rouge likes this.
  21. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Hilarious. You have real reading comprehension problems, don't you?

    Taking your last question first, here's just a selection of my postings on Carmichael:

    Why the lib-dems are shit

    Why the lib-dems are shit

    Why the lib-dems are shit

    Why the lib-dems are shit

    In the pub tonight most people said they favoured Nicola Sturgeon. What a pity this is S E UK..

    Why the Guardian is going down the pan!

    In the pub tonight most people said they favoured Nicola Sturgeon. What a pity this is S E UK..

    In the pub tonight most people said they favoured Nicola Sturgeon. What a pity this is S E UK..

    "selective quotes and faulty logic, deliberately leaving out fact after fact".

    Suggesting that I've selectively quoted Tickell? Nope. I've quoted him. I've also provided two links to his original.

    What facts have I deliberately left out?

    "Anyone who disagrees is already tarred a cybernat :rolleyes: in the first post."

    Nope. Read it again. And read post 14. Most people from the context can see that it's not me using the term, but me reporting the shite storm. I've put the term in inverted commas whenever I've used it. (You also know very well that the term has been reclaimed, as it were, by many nationalist - note the small n - internet users).

    This is amusing not least because I have myself been called a "cybernat". Not that it's a term I'd try to "reclaim" for myself, since I'm not a nationalist.

    "What's she being investigated for, Danny? Honestly...tell urbanites specifically what she's being investigated for."

    What are you on about? I've explained in a very detailed manner what is being investigated. I've explained, using Tickell's words, that the inquiry was occasioned by Hales' behaviour, that there had to be an inquiry into the transactions, and that there may not be anything illegal about them. I've also said on several occasions that Thomson has not been charged with anything. She may never be charged with anything relating to this. And the transactions carried out by her company may be perfectly legal. Perhaps only Hales is in the wrong in a legal sense. This is all quite clearly spelled out. Read it.

    But as I've said, the matter still raises questions. Perhaps you don't like those questions, perhaps you'd rather they weren't raised. But that says more about you that it does anyone else.

    There is a sizeable voice in the independence movement (not, please note, coming from the SNP's officials or elected members) which wants all pro-independence supporters to blindly follow the SNP without criticism, to blindly follow Tommy Sheridan without criticism, to blindly follow Wings without criticism. Sorry, but that's a disturbing trend.

    (If you want my position laid out, then I have done so in a fairly full manner here:

    In the pub tonight most people said they favoured Nicola Sturgeon. What a pity this is S E UK..

    And throughout that thread. If you think that means I won't criticise that which I don't like in the independence movement, then you are sadly mistaken).
    Belushi likes this.
  22. killer b

    killer b Nostrofuckingdamus

    Dexter's post is pretty much word for word what I was expecting. Kool-aid.
  23. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    There's a meme in Scottish social media, "SNPbad".

    Where is came from is this:

    It is true that the mainstream media in Scotland puts far more energy into stories that paint the SNP in a bad light than they do into stories about other parties. Indeed, many of these stories have been insubstantial and frankly would not have been headlines had they been about Labour. Stories are spun to find a negative way of painting the SNP. For example, those dastardly SNP still support independence, you know.

    So this tendency has been parodied as "SNPbad".

    Well, OK. Except that it has for some now become a reason for some to reject all and any questions of the SNP. "Yeah yeah, SNPbad" has therefore become a form of "lalalala I'm not listening".

    Yes, I get that it comes from a feeling of being under siege from an establishment that is overwhelmingly antagonistic to independence, and a media that is overwhelmingly pro-Union. But that doesn't mean that *every* criticism is invalid.

    There are valid questions raised by this case.
    muscovyduck and weepiper like this.
  24. Belushi

    Belushi 01 811 8055 R.I.P.

    They're the dominant force in Scottish politics now so I would have thought they are going to have to get used to facing more criticism than the smaller parties.
  25. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Well, yes, now. But this trend does go back to when Labour were dominant in Westminster terms. However, you're right: they ought to expect the spotlight.
  26. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist slowtime

    never mind all that, Whats the WoS take on matters here?
  27. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

  28. DexterTCN

    DexterTCN Official Twitter Liaison Officer

    If only some way you could find out.

  29. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist slowtime

    lol. Financial impropreity is an irrelevance yah.
  30. DexterTCN

    DexterTCN Official Twitter Liaison Officer

    No...any reasonable accusation should be investigated independently imo.

    What I'm saying is....danny has spoonfed you a load of one-sided garbage, like his other thread that he never responds to anymore. I'm saying that the multi-daily onslaught that has been going on up here for years would make your jaw drop.

    Read these sites. Any subject, any time over the past few years, just be random :)

    Wee Ginger Dug
    Lallands Peat Worrier (was not actually snp until a while back despite what danny says)
    To September And Beyond
    Bella Caledonia
    Home - Newsnet.scot
    The Ponsonby Post - FRONT PAGE
    Wings Over Scotland

    and google others after getting a general idea, look for the negative sites.....I won't quote you or tell you what 'side' to fall on...make up your own mind...cross-reference...no pointers from me

    Just stop reading this shite and accepting it.

    Anyway...moral turpitude, misogyny and so on.....carry on.
    Celyn likes this.

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