A ROW between former Socialist comrades over party funds has resulted in the police being asked to intervene in Shetland.

Allison Kane, the Scottish Socialist Party national treasurer, claimed the decision to transfer funds to Tommy Sheridan's breakaway Solidarity party was "nothing short of stealing".

Most SSP members and branches in the Highlands and Islands have defected to the new party, but the Shetland membership has voted unanimously to stay in the SSP and is furious at the way the issue of funds was handled at a meeting in Inverness earlier this month.

Kevin Learmonth, the Shetland branch chairman, has complained to the police, with Chief Inspector Malcolm Bell confirming: "There has been a report made to us and we are conducting preliminary enquiries to establish whether or not this is a criminal matter."

Mr Learmonth has also written to the Royal Bank of Scotland, saying: "It is my belief that the meeting in Inverness was held to perpetuate a fraud by removing money from my organisation and transferring (it) to another through means of renaming a bank account.

"Our share of the funds in these accounts have now been laundered so as to hide the original source of the funds, and with the signatories changed, we no longer have authority to control how these funds are then spent, administered or prevent funds being passed to unknown third party organisations."

As SSP national treasurer, Ms Kane claims she only discovered by chance that the funds had been moved, adding: "It is very serious to attempt to remove monies in this way. It is nothing short of stealing.

"It's a bit like my joining an animal rights organisation and making a donation, then six months later, phoning them up to say, I don't support you any more, give me back my money so I can pay it to Greenpeace instead."

Steve Arnott, the former SSP organiser in the Highlands, who has moved to Solidarity and is a spokesman for the new party, said the transfer of funds was "perfectly legal".