THE SNP’s Annabelle Ewing has been elected by MSPs to serve as one of Holyrood’s deputy presiding officers despite a possible conflict of interest over her brother.

Ms Ewing, the MSP for Cowdenbeath, won more than half the votes in the fourth round of voting for the coveted position.

Her election coincided with opposition calls for her brother, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing, to make an urgent statement on a potential financial scandal.

Mr Ewing helped broker state support for the Liberty Steel to run two steel works and an aluminium smelter.

The Serious Fraud Office today announced it had launched an invesitgation into possible fraudulent trading and money laundering at the GFG Alliance, the business empire run by Liberty Steel owner Sanjeev Gupta.

READ MORE: SNP under pressure as Gupta business empire investigated for fraud

Although it is unlikely Ms Ewing would preside over such a statement, the issue shone an immediate spotlight on potential conflicts of interests down the line.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said:  "It is of the utmost importance that all ministers are held to account by the parliament and that they are scrutinised without fear or favour."

Ms Ewing was elected with 64 votes after four rounds of elimination voting after a record ten applicants for the two deputy posts.

Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur was later elected as the second deputy PO after getting 74 votes.

The initial field included five SNP MSPs, two Labour, two Tory and one Liberal Democrat.

The SNP MSP candidates were Clare Adamson, James Dornan, Ms Ewing, Bill Kidd and Stuart McMillan.

The Tory MSP candidates were Jeremy Balfour and Edward Mountain, Labour’s are Claire Baker and Rhoda Grant, and the Liberal Democrat is Liam McArthur.

After Ms Ewing was elected, Mr Kidd dropped out, but all other eight applicants went forward in the contest to elect the second deputy PO.

Until now, the most deputy PO applicants at the start of a parliamentary term has been four.

After the first round of voting for the second deputy PO spot, Mr McArthur was first on 45 votes, with Mr McMillan second on 20. Mr Balfour was eliminated with five votes and Mr Mountain withdrew after getting 12.

After the second round, and with MSPs keen to get on, Mr McArthur was elected deputy PO with 74 votes, with Mr McMillan second on 19.

The position comes with a £30,351 salary on top of the MSP’s basic of £64,470. 

The names of the candidates was read out at the Scottish Parliament by the new Presiding Officer, former Green Alison Johnstone, who was the sole nominee yesterday.

Ms Johnstone was required to cut all her ties with her former party to take up the role.

However deputy POs, who chair proceedings in Ms Jonstone’s absence, keep their party affiliations. 

Ms Ewing, 60, a former MP who has been an MSP since 2011, was women’s employment minister from 2014 to 2016 and then community safety minister to 2018. 

A parliament spokesperson said: "Any Presiding Officer or Deputy Presiding Officer elected by Parliament is required to act impartially and take account of the interests of all members equally."