Debt-laden law firm linked to SNP candidate put into administration

A LAW firm linked to a high-profile SNP candidate has gone bust with the loss of nine jobs.

Glasgow-based Hamilton Burns WS Ltd collapsed into administration after suffering from a steep drop in legal aid income and “very high levels of historic debt”.

The firm was formerly run by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a member of the SNP’s ruling national executive who is standing for re-election in Ochil and South Perthshire on June 8.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, 46, was a partner in the firm from 2010 to 2015.

She stepped away after being elected as an MP at the last general election but remains a shareholder.

She was the subject of a sequestration action by the taxman last year in relation to Hamilton Burns, but the action was dismissed “in chambers” on the eve of a scheduled court hearing.

She insisted at the time she had no “outstanding personal tax liability whatsoever”.

HMRC also lodged a liquidation petition at Glasgow Sheriff Court last year, pursuing Hamilton Burns for £31,000 in unpaid PAYE, most dating from after Ms Ahmed-Sheikh’s partnership.

HMRC tried to wind up Hamilton Burns in February, but the petition was dismissed in March.

Earlier this month Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, a former Tory candidate who switched to the SNP in 2000 as a protegee of Alex Salmond, confirmed the Law Society of Scotland was investigating her over “administrative matters” relating to her time at Hamilton Burns.

Nicola Sturgeon rejected calls from other parties to suspend her as an SNP candidate.

The administration followed a request by the current directors of the company, after it was unable to resolve its financial problems.

Joint administrators Tom MacLennan and Iain Fraser, partners with FRP Advisory, said they had agreed to transfer four directors and three trainees to two separate firms.

Two directors and two trainees go to Latta Law, while two directors and one trainee go to the new firm of Moss & Kelly Solicitors.

However nine staff, two qualified lawyers and seven administrative workers, have been made redundant with immediate effect.

Mr MacLennan said: “Hamilton Burns WS Limited had been severely affected by a marked reduction in legal aid income and a significant decline in general practice fee income.

“The firm also had very high levels of historic debt which, together with the fall in income led to unsustainable pressures on cash flow.

“Every effort had been made to find a solution for the firm, however it became clear that administration was the only option.

“We are pleased to have negotiated agreements for the transfer of seven staff, client files and work in progress. It is with great regret that the remaining nine staff have been made redundant, for whom we will provide as much support as possible.”

Based at Glasgow’s Carlton Place, Hamilton Burns was set up in 2001.

An SNP spokesman said Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was “sorry to hear the news” about the firm, but had not been involved with it for two years, and retained only a “very small shareholding”.

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