Charity 'did not receive donation' from organisation tied to ex-SNP MP

Proceeds from a collection held by Women for Independence were allegedly never passed on to Positive Prisons Positive Futures.

Charity ‘did not receive donation’ from organisation with finances controlled by Natalie McGarry SNS Group

A charity did not receive a donation from a Scottish independence organisation whose finances were controlled by former SNP MP Natalie McGarry, a court has heard.

Positive Prisons Positive Futures chief executive Peter White, 68, claimed that Women for Independence (WFI) failed to send £326 from a bucket collection in March 2015.

McGarry, 40, who represented Glasgow East at Westminster for the SNP, allegedly stole more than £25,000 from two organisations advocating for Scottish independence between April 2013 and August 2015.

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

Jurors at Glasgow Sheriff Court earlier heard that WFI held a bucket collection at a conference which was split between the organisation and the Positive Prisons.

Mr White stated that the charity’s aim was to “improve the chances of people were prisoners to restore citizenship when they were released.”

A total of £326 was to be sent to Positive Prisons. 

An email shown to the jury from March 2014 displayed Mr White thanking WFI as well as providing the bank details.

Prosecutor Alistair Mitchell asked if Mr White heard again from WFI and he answered “No.”

Mr White was seen to email again in April 2014 “checking everything was ok.”

An email from McGarry that day was shown to say the cheque had not been cashed. 

She appeared to apologise for the “confusion” and asked for an address to send the cheque.

Mr White said that the charity did not send the information requested. 

He said: “We were a busy charity, I put it on the back burner and didn’t pursue it any further.”

Mr Mitchell: “It was agreed that there was no donation received by the charity, were you aware of that?”

Mr White: “There was no donation received from WFI – that’s correct.”

He followed up to say that the money would have been used to pay for volunteers travel expenses and other things they would do on the charity’s behalf.

McGarry’s friend and fellow WFI founder Shona McAlpine, 42, told the jury that the organisation ran on trust.

She added that she did not feel uncomfortable about things at the “informal organisation.”

Ms McAlpine claimed that she and McGarry “were the ones doing all the work” for WFI.

The witness stated that McGarry was “not the most well off person in the world.”

She added: “Natalie was skint, let’s be honest, it happens.”

The secondary school teacher – who was health secretary Humza Yousaf’s office manager – told the jury that she offered Mr Yousaf to pay for McGarry’s rent on one occasion.

Jurors were told yesterday by Yousaf that it was him who paid the £600 which he claimed was to stop McGarry being evicted that day.

Ms McAlpine stated that she “did not see Natalie spending extravagant money or anything like that.”

Allan Macleod, defending, asked if it was fair to say McGarry was spinning a lot of plates at the time in her roles with WFI, the SNP and Yes Glasgow.

She replied: “Yes, not a lot of people stepped up to do the work.”

Mr Macleod: “How would you describe Natalie as a person?”

Ms McAlpine: “Trustworthy, caring, always willing to helping out friends.

“If something needs done, she was always willing to be there and support and help.

“For all I love her, she is a nightmare for clumsiness and disorganisation.

“She was a fantastic person but more or less the opposite in many ways.”

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 denies the two charges.

The trial continues before sheriff Tom Hughes.

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