Former MP Natalie McGarry jailed for 18 months for embezzlement
Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry has been given 18 months in jail after embezzling more than £25,000 from pro-independence groups.
The MP for Glasgow East from 2015 to 2017, McGarry pled guilty to two charges of embezzlement after admitting to taking money intended for Women for Independence while acting as the group’s treasurer, as well as from a foodbank.
The court heard the former MP had spent the money on rent as well as a holiday to Spain.
After pleading guilty to two charges of embezzlement last month, McGarry then attempted to withdraw the guilty pleas at a later hearing, but was refused by Sheriff Paul Crozier.
Appearing in Glasgow Sheriff Court, Crozier told McGarry: “This offence is of the most serious kind and you were in a position of trust and you abused this position.
“This was an organisation where you were a founding member and you used the funds for your own use.
“There is no alternative than a custodial sentence as you have shown no remorse.”
In a statement, campaign group Women for Independence said: “The missing money represented donations from women and men across Scotland to support the organisation's campaigning for Independence. For many these donations were a real sacrifice.
“Women for Independence has been long associated with campaigning for justice for women caught up in the criminal justice system.
“We were instrumental in the campaign to halt the building of the proposed super prison for women in 2014 and we launched Justice Watch in 2015 which has been acting as a citizens' witness programme regarding the reality for women and criminal justice.
“The general pattern of offending by women is such that we believe most women serving custodial sentences would be better served by community disposals which do not disrupt families, children or in the long run cost more but which can demonstrate real benefits to women to cut re-offending while making a valuable contribution to the community.
“We had no influence on the sentencing diet and recognise that we were not the only party injured by her actions. We respect the sheriff's decision given his comments on the seriousness of the matter. We are frustrated however that there are not more alternatives to prison available for sheriffs to consider and we will continue to campaign on this issue.”
McGarry resigned the party whip after the allegations against her were first made and then did not seek re-election in the 2017 general election.