Scotland politics

'Questions need answered' over SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh's charity

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh
Image caption Ms Ahmed-Sheikh resigned from the charity after becoming an MP in 2015

Conservatives and Labour believe SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh has "serious questions" to answer over criticism of a charity she founded.

An investigation by the Herald newspaper reported that the Scottish Asian Women's Association (Sawa) spent only 2.8% of its income on donations.

The two parties hit out at the MP and said the charity should account for how money was spent.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said she was "very proud" of her role with the charity.

The Ochil and South Perthshire MP set up the charity with support from the Scottish government in 2012, with Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon both present at the government-funded launch event.

Records held by the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator show that over the years she was chairwoman and it had income of £25,027, with expenditure of £2,507.

The Herald said £700 of that was spent on donations, although there was no suggestion the MP was involved in any wrongdoing.

'Raising profile'

The 45-year-old resigned from Sawa in 2015 after becoming an MP, and since then it has donated £11,000 to charitable causes.

Labour and the Conservatives said "serious questions" had to be asked about how money was spent while the SNP representative was in charge.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said the charity's main role had been in raising the profile of women from Scotland's Asian communities.

She said: "While I am grateful for the Scottish government's reception in launching the organisation in 2012, Sawa did not receive Scottish government funding.

"The association supported two highly successful awards events in 2013 and 2014, which also had cross party and cross community support, in addition to a diverse range of events to support our aims and objectives.

"Following our own fundraising efforts between 2013 and 2014, Sawa made a range of donations in 2015, and continues to plan and carry out its work in this important area, in addition to planning future events."

Grant information

Scottish Labour's Jackie Baillie said "serious questions" should be asked about what the charity had spent its money on.

She added: "If the SNP government are going to hand out large sums of money to charities they need to establish what those charities are going to do with the funding to promote their cause."

Ms Baillie urged the government to release all correspondence and documentation relating to grants given to the charity.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser echoed Labour's call saying: "Questions have to be asked about any charity which receives public money but puts barely a fraction back to good causes.

"The Scottish government must reveal, in full, its decision making process for awarding this cash.

"Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh should also explain why this charity failed to deliver when it benefited so richly from taxpayers' cash."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The Scottish government supported the launch of the Scottish Asian Women's Association. We have not provided any financial support to the organisation since its launch in 2012."