Ex-SNP MP spent thousands on personal expenses jury hears

Natalie McGarry helped compile a spreadsheet in 2020 about her spending between 2013 and 2015.

Jury hears former SNP MP Natalie McGarry spent thousands on personal expenses STV News
Accused: McGarry is accused of embezzling over £25,000

Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry has told a jury that she spent thousands of pounds on personal expenses.

McGarry, 40, helped compile a spreadsheet in 2020 about her spending between 2013 and 2015.

This included work for various organisations including Women for Independence (WFI) as well as speaking events around Scotland.

The overall total came to £3815 which McGarry agreed in evidence was not an “accurate figure.”

McGarry, who represented Glasgow East, allegedly stole more than £25,000 from two organisations advocating for Scottish independence between April 2013 and August 2015.

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

A second charge states McGarry took £4661 between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015 when she was Treasurer, Secretary and Convenor of Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.

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

The court was shown the spreadsheet of numerous entries of events McGarry was involved in between 2013 and 2014.

The 2013 events were noted by McGarry’s Facebook posts. 

McGarry remarked: “It just shows how busy I was and WFI was at attending events.”

She claimed that her 2014 diary which had been seized by police helped her co-ordinate her whereabouts during the year.

She said: “I wouldn’t know what I was doing unless it was right in front of me.

“It was important to me as it told me everything I was doing at the time.”

McGarry’s spreadsheet confirmed that she attended a Yes Rutherglen meeting in February 2014.

There was also £1800 for a WFI promotional video as well as £100 for room hire at Glasgow’s Pearce Institute.

Actress Elaine C Smith, who appeared in the video, had her transport included in the list of expenses.

McGarry also had meetings with then First Minister Alex Salmond as well as aunt and former Holyrood speaker Tricia Marwick which she did not claim as an expense.

McGarry stated that she spent £153 on a trip to Edinburgh for a meeting on Sky News with Dominic Murnaghan which ended up not taking place.

She said: “When Russia annexed Crimea I was meant to be on but Vladimir Putin did a speech and quite rightly what happened would happen, happened.”

McGarry claimed that she had another event planned elsewhere later that day.

She added: “By the time Sky abandoned the programme, it wasn’t going to happen as there was no one who could take my place.”

McGarry had a meeting with singer Eddie Reader on April 1, 2014 which she did not claim as an expense.

She did claim £18.30 as an expense after appearing on Japanese TV.

McGarry claimed husband David Meikle drove her to various locations during 2014.

This included a 47-mile trip to Tarbet, Argyll and Bute, in relation to an independence event.

She said: “Even though we were on separate sides of the debate, he waited outside for three hours in Tarbet.”

Other expenses on McGarry’s spreadsheet included £11.25 milage for a Greenock newspaper interview as well as £57.50 for transport to Carnoustie for a WFI related video.

McGarry also claimed to have spent further cash in the run up to the independence referendum.

She remarked on a Glasgow event: “That day exemplified it…We were full of joy of thinking that we could win, we were speaking to people – it voted yes and it felt like that, it was a really good day.”

McGarry claimed that she appeared in Barcelona, the Basque Country and Syria following the referendum as a WFI representative for the New World Summit. 

A final total was amounted to £3815.64.

Her defence counsel, Allan MacLeod asked her: “Do you agree that total is not an accurate figure, do you accept that?”

McGarry said: “I agree there should be things that should be taken off.”

She agreed this included travel paid for by the BBC for appearances for which she was reimbursed.

Mr MacLeod asked how items such as badges and leaflets were paid for.

McGarry replied: “Multiple different ways, it depended on what we were doing at that point in time. Things were purchased in cash when we had cash. 

“Looking through my bank account is in no way  a record of purchases for WFI as a lot of things were purchased with cash.”

The trial continues before sheriff Tom Hughes.