Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry found guilty of embezzlement

Show caption Natalie McGarry arriving at Glasgow sheriff court to hear the verdict in her trial. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Scotland Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry found guilty of embezzlement Jury finds she took almost £25,000 from women’s pro-independence group and local party branch Libby Brooks Thu 12 May 2022 18.00 BST Share on Facebook

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The former MP Natalie McGarry has been found guilty of embezzling almost £25,000 from the pro-independence group she helped set up and from her local Scottish National party branch.

After a six-week trial at Glasgow sheriff court, the jury found her guilty by majority of a charge of embezzling £19,974 while she was treasurer of the Women for Independence campaign group between 26 April 2013 and 30 November 2015.

She was also found guilty by majority of a second charge of taking £4,661 between 9 April 2014 and 10 August 2015 when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.

McGarry, who was elected to represent the Glasgow East constituency for the SNP in 2015, but resigned the whip after she was first linked to allegations of missing donations in November of that year, denied the charges.

The trial heard from senior figures in the independence movement and the Scottish government, including the current and former Scottish health secretaries Humza Yousaf and Jeane Freeman.

Freeman was also one of the founding members of Women for Independence, which remains one of the most significant grassroots groups to emerge from the 2014 campaign.

McGarry’s lawyers admitted her finances were “disorganised” and “chaotic”, but prosecutors insisted that transfers of funds to her private account when, for example, her rent was due were “calculated” and “deliberate”.

Alistair Mitchell, for the prosecution, told the jury towards the end of the trial: “When you contribute money to an organisation you expect that to be used for that purpose. You don’t expect to pay McGarry’s rent or keep up her payments or [it to be] unaccountable altogether.”

Speaking after the verdict, Freeman told BBC Scotland she was pleased the situation had been resolved “after seven long years”.

She said the money had come from ordinary people who had wanted women’s voices to be heard in the 2014 referendum and “who had given us their hard-earned cash often in situations when they could least afford to do that”.

McGarry had an earlier conviction for embezzlement quashed in December 2019 after appeal court judges ruled she had suffered a miscarriage of justice.