Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh facing questions over taxpayer-funded charity

SNP MP for Perthshire South and Ochil, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Picture: Getty Images
SNP MP for Perthshire South and Ochil, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Picture: Getty Images
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SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh has been urged to explain why a charity she founded with the help of the Scottish Government has not spent more on good causes.

Opposition politicians are demanding answers from Ms Ahmed Sheikh and have demanded full disclosure from the Scottish Government of documents relating to the funding of the Scottish Asian Women’s Assocation (Sawa) amid claims the charity was concerned with promoting the politician.

The Sawa was created in 2012 with the Scottish Government giving support by providing Stirling Castle as a launch venue as well as paying for other costs such as catering at the event – help equivalent to about £16,000.

Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh left the charity when elected as an MP. But while she was chairwoman, the charity registered a total income of £25,027. Of this, just £700 was spent on good causes while Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was involved.

The charity was established to “promote religious and racial harmony” by raising the profile of Scottish Asian women. But Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh’s critics pointed to Sawa’s Facebook page urging people to vote for Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh when she was standing for the SNP in the 2014 European election.

There is no suggestion Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh has misused the charity’s funds or broken the law. But Labour called for the Scottish Government to release all documents relating to the support it gave the Sawa.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said questions had to be asked about what the Sawa spent its money on.

“As it stands just now the only tangible thing the Scottish Asian Women’s Association appears to have promoted is the public image of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh,” Ms Baillie said.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “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.”

Last night Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh said: “While I am grateful for the Scottish Government’s reception in launching the organisation in 2012, Sawa did not receive Scottish Government funding. Following our own fundraising efforts between 2013 and 2014, the Sawa made a range of donations in 2015.”