Former MP tells embezzlement trial she 'forgot' to pay media training bill

Natalie McGarry claimed it was an 'error' she 'didn't follow through correctly' but was not deliberate.

Former MP Natalie McGarry tells embezzlement trial she forgot to pay media training bill SNS Group
McGarry: Former MP tells trial she 'forgot' to pay media training bill.

Former MP Natalie McGarry told her embezzlement trial that she forgot to pay a firm for media training.

McGarry, 40, was shown to have made a cheque out to herself for £2000 from a Glasgow SNP branch in April 2015.

She claimed this was to cover a bill from Enterprise Screening to McGarry – who was then-treasurer and convenor of the Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.

But, the bill – jurors heard – went unpaid.

The ex-politician claimed that it was an “error” which she “didn’t follow through correctly” but was not deliberate.

McGarry, who represented Glasgow East for the SNP, 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 (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 Convenor of the GRA.

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

The court has heard in evidence that McGarry organised media training for potential SNP candidates prior to the 2015 general election.

The jury was shown a range of cheques made out by the GRA while McGarry was treasurer and convenor.

Defence counsel Allan MacLeod asked: “You have a cheque to you on April 28 for £2000 what was that for?”

McGarry replied: “This is my error, we had media training earlier on that month and we used the company Enterprise Screen.”

Mr MacLeod said: “We heard from an employee at Enterprise who said that bill was not paid, can you explain that?”

McGarry responded: “I can only say this is one issue I didn’t follow through correctly.

“It wasn’t until 2018 when I saw the charges, I had no idea this bill was not paid”

Mr MacLeod continued: “You said that the failure to pay the bill was an omission – how was that made?”

McGarry said: “I was waiting for feedback at that point in time – I usually made a bank transfer for them.

“I was going to pay it through my bank account but the date was before the election.

“I was waiting on them sending feedback and the company didn’t send a reminder.”

Mr MacLeod asked if it was true McGarry did not pay the money the company was due and she replied: “Yes, it is.”

Mr MacLeod said: “Did you deliberately withhold that money for your own purposes?”

McGarry replied: “No, absolutely not, it was just before my election as an MP and I had used them before and they are a family friend, I didn’t have no intention to pay.”

McGarry was earlier asked why the cheque for the £2000 did not match the stub which read: “Shettleston SNP for £250.”

She stated that she was “bad at filling” cheque stubs in.

McGarry added that the £250 related to one of four payments from the GRA to Glasgow branches fighting by-elections at the time.

She added: “I can’t remember what branches in particular, I think I just took a punt putting it in.”

McGarry was also quizzed about a £600 cheque payment from the GRA to a property consultancy firm who did a survey of her constituency office.

Jurors earlier heard evidence that parliamentary expenses IPSA body covered the bill and reimbursed McGarry.

McGarry claimed that IPSA had not been paid for several flights to London costing £600 for parliamentary business.

The trial continues before sheriff Tom Hughes.