NICOLA Sturgeon defended her handling of the Michelle Thomson row yesterday after the ex-MP hit out over her treatment by the party. In a weekend interview, Thomson said the SNP denied her the chance to give her side of the story after allegations of mortgage fraud emerged in 2015.

The former Edinburgh West MP, who did not contest the seat at the recent snap General Election, said she had been given “no support” by the party and no choice over resigning the whip. The comments came after police and prosecutors confirmed no criminal proceedings will be brought against her.

Addressing Thomson’s remarks in an interview with the BBC yesterday, Sturgeon said: “I regret very much that we were confronted with a situation where one of our newly-elected MPs was facing serious allegations, of course I regret that.

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“It wasn’t a situation of my making, it wasn’t a situation, clearly, I would have chosen to be in. And I appreciate that what followed on that, the investigation that took place, was not easy for Michelle Thomson and it wouldn’t have been easy for anyone in that situation. But I think people would also appreciate that it wasn’t a particularly easy situation for the party to be in either.

“Michelle is now, happily, in the position where she can put this behind her. She has been cleared of any wrongdoing and I am sure she is very relieved about that so we can now look forward and have a discussion directly with her.”

Earlier in the day Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The decision to withdraw from the party whip was Michelle’s decision that was taken as a consequence of conversations with those responsible for conduct matters within the party, and obviously it’s for Michelle now to consider how she moves on with her life in light of what I acknowledge has been a very difficult set of circumstances.”

Thomson was one of five people named in a report sent to prosecutors last December following a police investigation. Last week, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said there would be no criminal proceedings due to an absence of sufficient credible and reliable evidence.

Thomson was linked to deals involving Christopher Hales, a solicitor who was struck off for professional misconduct involving transactions in 2010 and 2011. She said she was not aware Hales had been struck off until it emerged in the press in 2015.

Former MSP candidate Toni Giugliano, who contested Thomson’s former seat for the SNP in June, told The National he had had to “take the flack” on the doorsteps during campaigning. He said: “My campaign and the local branch were put in an impossible position because she chose not to speak out. That was a huge mistake.”