An imam is locked in a legal battle with officials at one of Scotland’s biggest mosques amid claims he was sacked for whistleblowing on bosses.

Yahya Barry was dismissed from his role at Edinburgh Central Mosque in September last year after he raised concerns over financial irregularities and reported the mosque to the charity regulator.

He has now launched a claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

At a hearing in Edinburgh yesterday, a former accountant for the mosque told how he resigned over similar concerns.

Ahmed Werfali, now a lecturer in accounts and finance at Dundee University, told the tribunal he quit in March last year due to issues with newly appointed director Dr Naji Al Arfaj, including the irregular use of petty cash.

Mr Werfali, who described the environment at the mosque as “toxic”, claimed large cash sums were being paid out to tradesmen without any quotations being sought for the work or invoices being issued.

Solicitor Ruaraidh Lawson, representing Mr Barry, asked the witness what his concerns about the petty cash were.

He replied: “There was a man doing work on a new restroom. He [Dr Naji Al Arfaj] was paying him big amounts from the petty cash when you shouldn’t pay this amount from petty cash, you should use cheques.

“Invoices were also not provided for the work.”

The tribunal heard that the petty cash issue was one of the points Mr Barry, who was appointed to the £30,000-a-year role in December 2015, raised with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

On his whistleblowing form he claimed payments totalling around £8000 had been paid out of petty cash.

Mr Werfali told the tribunal that he discussed his concerns about the finances with Mr Barry.

Mr Lawson asked the witness why he took issue with the way the petty cash was being used.

He replied that it created an issue over “transparency for the mosque”.

The witness added: “Handing over large amounts of money without getting a quotation or an invoice, this is not good practice for a charity.”

The accountant said he was also concerned about the handling of money raised by the mosque via its car park, which generates income of around £3000 each week.

He said Dr Al Arfaj allowed various volunteers to deal with this cash, instead of officials from the mosque, which, he claimed, was “against the Muslim World League handbook”.

Mr Werfali added that, at the time he left in the mosque in March last year, it was in a good financial position.

The tribunal also heard from psychotherapist Khalid Shakir, who was involved in a mental health and wellbeing group at the mosque.

He told how during one meeting with officials, the group - including the imam - was told the mosque was facing financial difficulties and had a deficit of £22,000.

Mr Shakir said Mr Barry “challenged” that statement during the meeting.

He also told how a donation of £2000 was given to the group, but was never made available to them.

Mosque officials went on to disband the group, claiming members were conducting “psychological experiments”.

Asked how he felt about that decision, Mr Shakir replied: “I certainly wasn’t happy about it. It was unjustified.”

The tribunal, before employment judge Murdo Macleod, continues.