Nicola Sturgeon has repeated her backing for an SNP candidate who is subject to an investigation by Scotland’s legal watchdog amid further calls for her to be suspended.
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the party’s candidate for Ochil and South Perthshire in the General Election, confirmed last week the Law Society of Scotland is looking into ‘’administrative matters’’ relating to her time as a solicitor.
The fund was set up by Tom Martin for a member of his family who he says is not a “vulnerable person”.
The Scottish Daily Mail newspaper, in which news of the probe first emerged, reported on Wednesday it relates to “financial impropriety involving a trust fund set up to help a vulnerable person”.
Opposition parties repeated their calls for Ms Ahmed-Sheikh to be suspended but Ms Sturgeon said the investigation does not mean “wrongdoing” has taken place.
On the election trail in Musselburgh, East Lothian, the SNP leader told BBC Scotland: “The Law Society investigates many, many complaints about solicitors every year and just because a complaint is raised and an investigation is under way does not mean there has been wrongdoing on the part on the part of the lawyer concerned.
“It’s important that these matters are fully and robustly investigated, that’s part of the role of the Law Society, so they should be allowed to get on with that investigation and come to a conclusion.”
Tom Martin said allegations were “spurious”.
He said: “It (the fund) was previously administered by Tasmina and I when she was a partner in Hamilton Burns. The beneficiary of the trust fund upon its term is a member of my immediate family and is not a“vulnerable person”. The trust is a family trust, and Tasmina is no longer involved in its administration.
“Following upon a routine inspection at my former firm by the Law Society, I was asked questions in relation to the Trusts’ administration.
Further to this, the Society are presently awaiting the finalisation of a report in relation to the Trust, but have made the formal observation that there was no suggestion of dishonesty on my part nor on Tasmina’s in relation to the Trusts’ administration.
“The Law Society have a duty to complete their report impartially and confidentially, and I am extremely concerned that the details of this private family matter have now been released to the press.
“The suggestion that I am being investigated for financial impropriety in relation to my administration of a Trust for a vulnerable person is absolutely wrong, defamatory and actionable. The hurt, embarrassment and consternation caused to my family by these entirely spurious allegations is enormous and the damage to my professional reputation is incalculable.”
In a statement issued last week, Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said: ‘’I’m proud of my 17-year career in the legal profession.
“I am aware that issues have been raised with the Law Society in relation to administrative matters during my time at my former firm.
‘’The Law Society has a duty to uphold professional standards and they must be allowed to do so without prejudice.
‘’In the meantime, I’m getting on with fighting this election campaign and seeking re-election to stand up for the people of Ochil and South Perthshire.’’