THE Herald has been accused of a “partisan search for non-stories” by publicists for lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone following our revelations of disquiet in the business community and political circles about her suitability for the role of UK Government business start-ups czar.

The fact she benefited from tax avoidance schemes dubbed “morally repugnant” by the Chancellor prompted her PR firm to suggest this title was in some way partisan.

This is manifestly untrue. The Herald has been an interested, even supportive, observer of Ms Mone’s colourful business career over the years. With her remarkable talent for self-promotion, we have applauded the chutzpah of a working class Glasgow woman who made her mark in the male-dominated world of business. We have also been among the many titles that published photos of Ms Mone and an array of celebrity models promoting her cleavage-enhancing lingerie.

We followed the Ultimo saga over the years, although never quite buying into the gushing coverage often spouted elsewhere. We also highlighted her other business interests, which have taken in diet pills and fake tans. Through her ups and downs we gave Ms Mone the benefit of the doubt. Switching from Labour to Conservative and becoming a No vote champion was her choice, which we reported fairly and accurately.

Our involvement in this story came about for two reasons — the announcement of the UK Government’s appointment and a strong reaction from the Scottish business community which we felt we could not ignore.

Some facts need to be rehearsed: Ultimo was not a particularly successful business. It also outsourced its production to Asia. Ms Mone and her former husband utilised employee benefit trusts to avoid tax. Their company created few jobs in Scotland, and she was involved in bugging one of her employees.

But none of this prompted The Herald’s scrutiny. What did was feedback from members of the Scottish business community, many of whom were aghast at Ms Mone becoming the UK Government’s face of business start-ups.

When Douglas Anderson of Gap Group – a company employing 1,300 people with annual revenues of £150m – writes to the Prime Minister to protest about the appointment of Ms Mone to the start-ups role, amid rumours of her also being appointed to the Lords, were we meant to ignore it?

Perhaps we were meant to ignore him when he said: “Her businesses have been no more than excessively over-promoted PR minnows gaining unjustified acclaim due to the glamorous sector they happen to be in. There is no way, by any measure, that she is qualified to advise anybody on setting up a profitable business, because, quite simply, she hasn’t.”

This is – or at least should be – a serious job. We do not doubt Ms Mone’s drive, ambition and desire to do well in the role.  But we also recognise that while it is unpaid, the position burnishes her valuable credentials as a media personality and handsomely-rewarded public speaker.

With this appointment Prime Minister Cameron was acting like the shallow PR man his adversaries portray him as. Senior Scottish Conservatives, who were not consulted, were aghast at this divisive and potentially counter-productive appointment. Were we meant to ignore this?