A PROMINENT Scots MP is facing questions over a taxpayer-backed charity she founded after it donated less than three per cent of its income to good causes while she was chairwoman.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a close ally of Alex Salmond, has been urged to explain why so little was spent by the Scottish Asian Women’s Association (SAWA) over the last three years.

The charity was launched with £16,000 of support from the SNP government in 2012.

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The aim was to “promote religious and racial harmony” by raising the profile of Scottish Asian women and advancing their education, health, equality and employment.

Despite registering a total income of £25,027 while Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was chairwoman, SAWA made donations of just £700 - less than it spent on its website (£767) or its accountant (£744).

Between July 2012 and April 2015, SAWA spent 13.2 per cent of its income: 10.4 per cent on general bills to “generate voluntary income” and 2.8 per cent on donations.

There is no suggestion that Ms Ahmed-Sheikh misused SAWA funds or acted illegally.

However the figures, obtained from SAWA accounts, have revived claims that public money was used to kickstart what was effectively a publicity vehicle for her political career.

In May 2014, when she was standing in the European election, a SAWA Facebook page posted the message “Remember to vote SNP on Thursday to get Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh elected and keep Ukip out of Scotland”.

SAWA’s constitution also stipulated Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was to be named as the founder for “all time coming in all literature, letterheads and promotional/publicity material”.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “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.

“The only tangible thing SAWA appears to have promoted is the public image of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

“We need clarification on why Alex Salmond's government supported SAWA and whether ministers are satisfied with the use of taxpayer cash."

A solicitor and former Tory candidate who defected in 2000, Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was elected the SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire last year with a 10,168-vote majority.

While she was rising through the party ranks, the government helped her launch SAWA with £16,160 of public support in April 2012, just 48 hours after she applied to register it as a charity.

Ministers spent £9,260 entertaining 160 guests, with £4,500 going on canapes, and secured Stirling Castle’s Great Hall for the event, worth around £7,000.

Mr Salmond, then First Minister, and Nicola Sturgeon, then his deputy, both attended.

SAWA was not legally recognised as a charity for another 14 weeks.

It initially organised £100-a-plate award ceremonies, sponsored by RBS, at which prizes were given to Asian women in business, art, sport and public life.

However after ceremonies in 2013 and 2014 attended by Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon and senior Labour and LibDem MSPs, SAWA failed to stage the “annual event” in 2015.

The charity’s other activities also dwindled away in financial year 2014-15, which coincided with Ms Ahmed-Sheikh standing as an SNP candidate for Brussels and then Westminster.

SAWA’s net income was nil and its website, Facebook and Twitter accounts fell into disuse.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, 45, resigned as a trustee the day after she became an MP.

She is now the SNP trade and investment spokeswoman.

Since her exit, SAWA has donated £11,000 to charities and good causes.

It gave £4,000 to the South Asian Health Foundation, £3,000 to Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, and £2,000 each to the health charity Saheliya and the Dundee International Women’s Centre at an invite-only networking event in December.

Asked about SAWA’s spending, Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said: “I'm very proud of my role in helping launch the Scottish Asian Women's Association - we did a great deal of work to raise the profile and achievements of women from Scotland's Asian communities.

"I stood down upon my election to concentrate on my role as an MP. Although I no longer have any direct involvement, I continue to support the aims and objectives of SAWA.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have not provided any financial support to the organisation since its launch in 2012.”