Former MP 'paid back cash embezzled from indyref group using loan'

Natalie McGarry allegedly stole more than £25,000 from two Scottish independence organisations.

Natalie McGarry allegedly paid back embezzled money using loan iStock

Former SNP politician Natalie McGarry paid back cash to the Scottish independence organisation she is accused of embezzling from with a loan.

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

One charge claims the former MP embezzled £21,000 while Treasurer for Women for Independence (WFI) between April 26, 2013 and November 30, 2015.

Witness and former health secretary Jeane Freeman, 68, stated that £6436 of WFI cash that landed in McGarry’s bank account was paid back by the former politician.

Prosecutor Alistair Mitchell said: “The money that was paid back to WFI, it’s agreed the source of these funds were a loan payment to Natalie McGarry, was WFI aware of that?”

The witness replied: “No.”

The second charge states McGarry embezzled £4661 between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015.

It is alleged that while McGarry was Treasurer, Secretary and Convenor of Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP, she used cheques drawn from their bank account to pay expenses not incurred by the group.

McGarry is claimed to have retained reimbursements intended to settle expenses which she was not entitled to.

The charge goes on to say McGarry used cheques and money from donations to the organisation to deposit money to her own accounts.

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

Ms Freeman told the court that she contacted police as she had a “responsibility” due to the job roles that she and accountant Ms Young had.

In a later report to WFI’s national committee it was stated that there was a £31,824.10 discrepancy in the known income and expenditure figures. 

Mr Mitchell asked: “You said you were aware of the crowdfunders, it is agreed that the money from those three crowdfunders were transferred to Natalie McGarry’s bank account – were you aware of that?”

Ms Freeman replied: “No.”

Mr Mitchell asked where the witness expected the cash to go and she replied: “The WFI bank account.”

The prosecutor later said: “From March 2014, the PayPal account was connected to Natalie McGarry’s bank account, were you aware of that?”

Ms Freeman again replied: “No.”

Allan Macleod, defending, put it to Ms Freeman that McGarry was “not an accountant or have any accountancy qualifications.”

She said: “No, and I feel people who have the title of treasurer of a small organisation would fall into that category.

“It’s not difficult to know how to record income and expenditure and get information to support that expenditure.”

Mr Macleod also suggested that McGarry was doing “a lot of work.”

Ms Freeman replied: “Yes, along with others.”

The trial continues before sheriff Tom Hughes.

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