Natalie McGarry: Former SNP MP on trial for ’embezzling Yes group funds’

A former MP accused of embezzling more than £25,000 from two Scottish independent organizations she was involved in has gone on trial.

Natalie McGarry appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday where her lawyer, Allan Macleod, said she had denied the two embezzlement charges against her.

The 40-year-old is accused of embezzling £21,000 from Women for Independence between April 26, 2013 and November 30, 2015.

McGarry, from Clarkston, was the campaign group’s treasurer and is accused of using the organization’s account to wire money intended for the Perth and Kinross Foodbank and Glasgow-based Positive Prisons, Positive Futures, in his own bank.

And the former politician is facing a second charge of embezzlement of £4661.02 from the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015.

It is alleged that in the course of her duties as treasurer, secretary and facilitator of the association, she used checks drawn on bank accounts held in her name to pay for expenses she had not incurred and withheld refunds to which it was not entitled.

The indictment also alleges that McGarry used checks drawn on bank accounts held in the association’s name to deposit money into his own personal bank accounts and transferred donated funds to the association through his website in its own accounts.

The jury of seven men and eight women, sitting virtually, was sworn in and Sheriff Tom Hughes told them the trial would last up to six weeks.

And Sheriff Hughes has warned them not to do their own research online, and they must make a verdict only on the evidence they hear in court.

The jury was told that the prosecution, led by tax prosecutor Alastair Mitchell, would bring evidence that McGarry transferred funds from Women for Independence totaling £7,816.46 to his own account between April 26, 2013 and the November 30, 2015.

And the court was told that between February 1, 2014 and June 17, 2014, she set up an online crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for Yes Glasgow and transferred £3891.84 raised to her own account banking for his own use.

McGarry was elected SNP MP for Glasgow East in 2015 but later served as an Independent MP. She did not contest the seat in the 2017 general election.

Sheriff Hughes said evidence will begin on Wednesday.

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