Ex-MP Guilty Of Professional Misconduct
15 January 2019, 13:33 | Updated: 15 January 2019, 15:01
Former MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh has been found guilty of professional misconduct over her handling of a trust at a law firm where she was partner.
The SNP member was brought before a tribunal along with fellow solicitor Alan Mickel, with whom she ran the now defunct Hamilton Burns.
The case centred on a trust set up in May 2012 on behalf of Mr Mickel's sister, which he believed to be a "private, family matter" but in legal terms was considered a client of the firm, it was heard.
The Law Society said Mr Mickel and Ms Ahmed-Sheikh showed "disregard for the rules" when they failed to keep proper accounts of the trust and sums were borrowed from the fund when it was not in the practice of lending money.
Their actions constituted a conflict of interest and risked undermining public confidence in the profession, it said.
At a hearing in Perth on Tuesday, Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) chairman Nicholas Whyte said it had found both guilty of professional misconduct.
Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was a partner at Hamilton Burns and held the title of cash room manager before her resignation in May 2015, when she was elected MP for Ochil and South Perthshire.
She lost the seat in the 2017 general election.
An inspection of the firm raised concerns in October 2015 and Mr Mickel resigned that December.
The Law Society accepted the pair's belief the trust was not a client of the firm was "genuine but erroneous".
It was agreed there was no suggestion of dishonesty or personal benefit.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow provided a character reference for Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, which was read to the panel.
He described the married mother-of-four as a "passionate, fearless and extremely articulate."
Mr Bercow added: "It has been a pleasure to work with Tasmina. I have found her to be honest, diligent and trustworthy."
Dorothy Bain QC, acting for Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, 48, described her career as a practising solicitor from 1996 to 2015 as "unblemished" and said she would like to continue her legal work.
Ms Bain said: "It has been accepted entirely by the Law Society that there is no suggestion at all of dishonesty or impropriety on her part."
The panel heard 50-year-old Mr Mickel hoped to relocate to England and become a barrister.
Since resigning from Hamilton Burns he has been carrying out consultation work for a firm in Guildford, Surrey, and working as a off-piste ski guide in France.
His lawyer William McCreath said publicity surrounding the case before the tribunal had been "very damaging" to the father-of-three personally and professionally, which had in part led to his marriage breaking down.
He said: "Mr Mickel's earnest desire is to continue in practice, though in a different jurisdiction."
Mr McCreath also underlined to the panel the Law Society had accepted there was "no lack of honesty, integrity or probity".
The hearing continues.