Ex-MP Natalie McGarry guilty of embezzlement in ‘significant breach of trust’

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Natalie McGarry leaves Glasgow Sheriff Court where she was found guilty of embezzling nearly £25,000 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Former MP Natalie McGarry committed “significant breach of trust”, a court heard, as she was found guilty of embezzling nearly £25,000 from two independence groups.

McGarry, who represented Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was found guilty of two embezzlement charges – totaling £24,635 – following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

A majority jury found her guilty of a £19,974 embezzlement charge while she was Treasurer of Women for Independence (WFI) between April 26, 2013 and November 30, 2015.

However, the jury removed a sum of £1,026 from the charge which represented donations which were to be made to charities Perth and Kinross Foodbank and Positive Prisons Positive Futures.

She was also convicted by majority of a second charge of taking money between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015, when she was Treasurer, Secretary and Convenor of the Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.

Sheriff Tom Hughes told McGarry that the two organizations gave her a position of trust, which helped her get elected to Westminster.

He said: “You have been found guilty of a series of incidents which took place over a long period of time.

“This was not an isolated incident. You made a number of transactions to enable you to commit this crime.

“There is a significant breach of trust in all of this. You have been asked to look after the finances of Women for Independence and the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.

McGarry, who made no reaction to the reading of the verdict, was joined by her family in court.

During the six-week trial, the court heard from dozens of witnesses, including former health secretary Jeane Freeman, who said she reported McGarry after noticing a large deficit in WFI accounts.

The ex-SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said she had no idea that donations made to Crowdfunder Group Independence went from the organization’s PayPal account to McGarry’s personal bank account.

She also expressed frustration at McGarry’s delay in delivering receipts and invoices that would show what the funds were spent on.

The court also heard witnesses say that McGarry was thin and regularly received loans from family and friends.

This included Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who gave the former MP £600 to stop her being evicted from her home.

The court also saw McGarry’s bank statements which showed that Crowdfunder donations from WFI were transferred to his 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 rent and groceries.

McGarry had said these were “legitimate” expenses she had incurred and were reimbursing herself.

Around £5,000 or £10,000 of expenses were incurred for banners and badges, she said.

These had been paid for by large cash donations amounting to around £1,500 to £1,600 a month from family members – including his aunt, Tricia Marwick, a former chairwoman of Holyrood.

Among the donations, Sheriff Hughes continued, “There were a lot of people who contributed [to the Crowdfunders] who were really unable to afford it.

Sheriff Hughes released McGarry on bail for background and social work reports.

She is scheduled to appear for sentencing on June 30.