FORMER SNP MP Natalie McGarry has been accused in court of using funds from a pro-independence group to ‘cover her own expenses’.
Accountant Elizabeth Young, who has helped Women for Independence, told Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday there were concerns over finances when she started at the campaign group, which grew when she tried to get information from McGarry.
The former MP is also said to have on one occasion asked diners to pay for groceries used to prepare the meal.
Young, 37, said, “I saw the pattern. As funds ran out, funds from Women for Indy would be disbursed, either by PayPal or check. He was deposited to cover his own personal expenses.
“Funds were low, some more money would come in. Obviously that was a warning.”
McGarry faces two counts of embezzlement, which she denies.
The 40-year-old is accused of embezzling £4,661.02 from the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015, as well as embezzling £21,000 between April 26, 2013 and on November 30, 2015 while serving as Treasurer of Women for Independence.
Young told the court she had sought information on where the money was spent for months, with the 14-person jury receiving copies of emails between her, McGarry and other members of the organization of the campaign.
After McGarry was elected to serve Glasgow East in May 2015, the court was told Young was questioned about the MP’s then-home address and told it would be an opportunity to discuss the accounts.
But, she told the court, when she arrived there was another guest.
Young said: “When we were there, I think it was the first time I had concerns. Natalie had a story about, I think her partner took a bank card and had no money, and asked the other guest to pay for groceries to cook dinner with.
“It stuck in my mind as a bit of a weird thing that was happening. It seemed like a strange occurrence to invite people over for dinner and then ask them if they would be willing to pay for it.
McGarry sat in the dock and listened to Chartered Accountant Young explain to Sheriff Tom Hughes and the jury that in November 2015 Women for Independence contacted police about what had been uncovered.
Young told the court there was a 40% discrepancy between what the group raised and what was spent.
The trial continues.