Ex SNP-MP Natalie McGarry 'took refuge in toilet' as warrant read out

Detective constable says McGarry was 'angry and distressed' when he arrived at her home in May 2016.

Ex SNP-MP Natalie McGarry ‘took refuge in toilet’ as search warrant read out SNS Group
Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

A detective constable told a jury on Thursday that Natalie McGarry took refuge in a toilet as he read out a search warrant for her home.

Brian Butler stated that McGarry was “angry and distressed” when he arrived at the scene on May 19, 2016.

DC Butler further stated that the former MP closed the door on his face and did not conduct herself in a way “befitting of her position”.

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 (WFI) 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 convener of Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.

McGarry – of the city’s Clarkston – denies the two charges.

DC Butler told jurors in evidence that McGarry was distressed, angry and refused to remain still when he attempted to read the search warrant.

He said: “She then took refuge in the bathroom and I had to read the terms of the warrant through the bathroom door.”

Prosecutor Alistair Mitchell asked how things progressed from there.

The witness replied: “There was a continued escalation or de-escalation. For a person in an elected position, her conduct was not befitting her position.”

Mr Mitchell then asked: “Was there a point she came out?”

DC Butler replied: “Yes, she tried to slam the door in my face.”

The officer said that he was able to carry out a search of the property. Items recovered included a cheque and cheque stub with the name of the charity Positive Prisons written on it.

The witness stated that McGarry later gave a “no comment” interview at a police station. 

He then read out a statement from Les Paskin, a deceased co-ordinator of Perth and Kinross Foodbank.

Mr Paskin told officers that he was in contact with an unknown member of WFI about receiving donations but had heard nothing back from them.

Allan MacLeod, defending, said: “Police knew Natalie McGarry asked WFI to look at a particular email account as there was stuff unaccounted for. 

“You have a large statement from Kathleen Caskie which makes no mention of looking in this account, did the police look at the emails themselves?”

DC Butler replied: “I don’t believe that we as an organisation had access to those emails.”

The officer was asked if the police analysed McGarry’s travel expenses for WFI.

He replied: “No…I don’t know why.”

Mr Macleod put it to the witness that police had been gathering evidence that she committed the crimes rather than exculpate her.

He replied: “My job was to gather information for the inquiry the best possible way.” 

Mr Macleod asked if the witness remembered that the warrant was executed a week before McGarry’s wedding.

He replied: “No.”

It was agreed that the search took place close to 7am.

The jury was then shown a video of part of the search of McGarry’s property. The witness said that items McGarry claimed to belong to WFI were not seized as it was recorded on video.

Mr MacLeod said: “You spoke to an employee at Hector Russell about ties purchased for £100 for a wedding?”

DC asked in response: “How were they purchased?”

Mr MacLeod said: “I don’t know, you spoke to people for her wedding – a photographer, the place she purchased her wedding ring – the police looked at these in detail?”

DC Butler replied: “There was a reason behind it.”

Mr MacLeod then asked: “When it comes to checking emails that Natalie said will contain evidence of expenses you didn’t bother looking at that?”

DC Butler replied: “I would suggest there were direct routes of inquiries about the purchases of wedding rings, photographers and ties.”

The trial continues tomorrow before sheriff Tom Hughes.