A former SNP MP who embezzled almost £25,000 from two pro-independence groups has been jailed for two years
Natalie McGarry, 40, who represented Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was convicted of two charges of embezzlement – totalling £24,635 – in May following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
A jury found her guilty by majority of a charge of embezzling £19,974 while she was treasurer of Women for Independence (WFI) between April 26 2013 and November 30 2015.
She was also found guilty by majority of a second charge of taking £4,661 between April 9 2014 and August 10 2015 when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.
Sentencing McGarry, Sheriff Tom Hughes said she had betrayed people who put their trust in her and that a custodial sentence was inevitable.
He told her: “It’s quite clear that society has a right to expect the highest standards from those who seek and eventually achieve high public office.”
He added: “Through your role in these offences, you have not only betrayed the trust placed in you by others, but your standards have fallen well short of those the public should have a right to expect from MPs.”
Over the course of the six-week trial, the court heard from dozens of witnesses, including Scotland’s former health secretary Jeane Freeman, who said she reported McGarry after noticing a significant shortfall in WFI accounts.
Ms Freeman said she had no idea donations made to the group’s independence Crowdfunder were going from the organisation’s PayPal account into McGarry’s personal bank account.
She also voiced her frustrations at McGarry’s delay in handing over receipts and invoices which would show what the funds had been spent on.
The court also heard from witnesses that McGarry had personal financial difficulties and regularly received loans from family and friends.
That included from Humza Yousaf, the current Scottish Health Secretary, who gave McGarry £600 to prevent her from being evicted from her house.
The court also saw McGarry’s bank records, which showed Crowdfunder donations from WFI being transferred to her own personal account.
It included £10,472.52 on April 29 2014 and a further £9,848.70 on November 12 2014 – which she used to pay for rent and shopping.
McGarry had said these were “legitimate” expenses which she had incurred and which she was reimbursing herself for.
McGarry was elected as an SNP member in 2015 but resigned the party whip after the emergence of fraud allegations – which she denied.
She continued in Parliament as an independent MP representing Glasgow East but did not seek re-election in 2017.
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