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Natalie McGarry denies embezzlement charges

Natalie McGarry denies embezzlement charges

Former MP Natalie McGarry has denied embezzling cash from two organisations advocating for Scottish independence.

McGarry, 40, who represented Glasgow East for the SNP, allegedly stole more than £25,000 between April 2013 and August 2015.

McGarry is said to have embezzled £21,000 while treasurer for Women for Independence (WFI) between 26 April 2013 and 30 November 2015.

A second charge states McGarry took £4,661 between 9 April 2014 and 10 August 2015 when she was Treasurer, Secretary and Convenor of Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.

McGarry - of Clarkston, East Renfrewshire - denies the two charges at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

McGarry began her evidence by stating that she suffers from a condition which affects her vocal nerves and is impacted by her mental health.

Her defence counsel Allan MacLeod asked her: “Did you embezzle money from the organisation Women for Independence?”

McGarry: “Certainly not.”

Mr MacLeod: “Did you embezzle money from the Glasgow Regional Association of the Scottish National Party?”

McGarry: “I did not.”

Mr MacLeod: “Did you deliberately misappropriate funds from either of those organisations for your own use?”

McGarry: “I did not.”

McGarry claimed that she joined WFI in order to bridge the gap between male and female voices in the independence campaign.

She claimed to have taken a more hands-on role with the administration side of WFI after an unpaid bill of £187 was sent to one of the organisation's email accounts which had not been dealt with.

McGarry told the jury that it was "embarrassing" as the printing firm owed the cash was a personal contact.

She claimed that she and fellow founding member Shona McAlpine did the "donkey work" for the organisation.

McGarry later said: "I'm a good organiser but I'm not the most organised person, this is not what I signed up for.

"I believed in the organisation and independence, someone had to step up and do it and there didn't seem as if there were people doing it.

"It was just falling by the wayside and I didn't want it to fail and Shona McAlpine didn't want it to fail."

She said that the pair pushed WFI through 2013 and 2014 and added that they were "overwhelmed."

McGarry claimed she was unemployed at the time and was being helped out financially by her parents.

McGarry claimed that her "arm was pulled" when she decided to stand as a candidate in the Cowdenbeath byelection for Holyrood in 2013.

She was defeated and later stood again for the SNP at the 2015 UK general election as a candidate for Glasgow East where she was elected.

McGarry said: "My campaign team were the best and deserved someone who would give their all to the campaign and I did and they did - we exhausted ourselves.

"There was nothing that we didn't do that we could have."

McGarry added that she was not "focused enough" on WFI business during the election campaign.

McGarry was visibly emotional when she told the jury that she did not stand for election again in 2017.

She said: "This was hanging over me and I wasn't able to fight the election again and I was pregnant as well."

McGarry told jurors that she linked her personal bank account to the WFI PayPal account in order for donations for a crowdfunder to continue.

Mr MacLeod: “Did you see it as a problem linking your own account to the PayPal?”

McGarry: “It wasn’t ideal but in retrospect, would I do 1,000 things differently.

“I would have done things completely differently and not gone near any of it.”

Mr MacLeod asked how WFI benefited by money being in her bank account.

She replied: “I was purchasing on behalf of WFI and I was able to as it was my bank card, as I had to pay for things I couldn’t pay for by cheque or cash.”

McGarry agreed that blank cheques were signed and that it was “not practical” but stated that it happened in other organisations.

Mr MacLeod said: “Did anyone say to you through this period ‘Hang on a moment, that’s a a bit of a rubbish financial summary you gave, give more facts and figures’?”

McGarry: “Not that I can recall as no one was interested in the small details of how we operated - people just wanted things done.

“People say they offered me assistance during this and on one occasion I asked for assistance and no one turned up to help me.”

The trial continues tomorrow before Sheriff Tom Hughes.

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Read the most recent article written by Connor Gordon - Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry jailed for two years.

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