A senior employee in one of Scotland’s largest local authorities has been suspended amid a probe into taxi contracts worth more than £200,000 awarded to his relative.

Peter Henry is off work at South Lanarkshire council while internal auditors examine payments totalling nearly £210,000 to his nephew for taking children with assisted support needs to school.

Henry is also the election agent to Labour’s local Holyrood candidate and deputy council leader Jackie Burns.

The council serves around 314,000 citizens and includes Hamilton, Lanark, East Kilbride and swathes of countryside.

The local authority is currently ruled by a Labour majority under the leadership of Eddie McAvoy.

It has now emerged that Henry, who is listed as a Passenger Services Co-ordinator, was suspended recently after an anonymous allegation over taxi contracts.

His division in the council arranges transport for citizens who have been referred by the education and social work departments.

Henry helps oversee these services and he was the contact for a survey on passenger user experiences.

According to the council’s contract register, South Lanarkshire has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years on children’s transport.

The expenditure involves taxi services to schools in and outside the local authority.

Since 2013, over £200,000 has been awarded to supplier "Stephen McGhee", who is Henry’s nephew and from Bothwell.

The contracts were made via a framework agreement and the first deal, worth £32,300, was dated August 2013.

Other contracts of the value of £51,244, £19,000, £24,320, £18,300, £31,720, £18,056 and £15,288 are also listed on the website.

McGhee is registered as being a director of a number of companies

He was one of over twenty contractors or individuals to have gained work from the council in this area.

It is understood Henry is a long-standing council employee and was suspended earlier this month.

As election agent to Burns, his role in next year’s Holyrood election will be to manage a campaign that has the aim of unseating the sitting SNP MSP.

The council previously faced criticism for paying out around £14m in taxi fares over a three year period – the second highest bill of any local authority.

However, the costs were defended on the grounds that the taxis helped the vulnerable people it was trying to support.

A council spokesman said: “This matter is currently under internal investigation and it would not be appropriate to comment further on it.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "This is a very serious matter involving the agent for a Labour candidate and must be thoroughly investigated."

Central Scotland MSP John Wilson said: “This situation should not be left to the council’s own internal auditors. Instead, I believe that external auditors should be appointed to address any concerns that have been raised. Public bodies must deal with allegations in an appropriate and transparent way.”

Burns declined to comment on the investigation, but said Henry’s role locally on his campaign team would “continue as normal”.

The Sunday Herald asked the council if Henry wanted to comment, but no response was issued.