Ex-SNP MP Natalie McGarry ’embezzled food bank money for Spanish holiday’ | Politics News
A former SNP MP embezzled thousands of pounds from pro-independence groups and money intended for a food bank to pay her rent and go on holiday to Spain, a court has heard.
Natalie McGarry owed thousands in rent when she took £25,600 which she allegedly spent on a holiday with her husband, “lifestyle spending”, as well as transferring some to him.
McGarry, 37, pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement at Glasgow Sheriff Court when she appeared there last month.
She later attempted to withdraw those guilty pleas, but it was refused by Sheriff Paul Crozier.
Her lawyer says there are factual inaccuracies in the narrative read to the court today.
She allegedly took £21,000 from the Women for Independence (WFI) group, while she was treasurer of the organisation.
The court heard that she transferred money raised at events into her personal account and then failed to transfer charitable donations to Perth and Kinross food bank, and Positive Prison, Positive Future, between 26 April 2013 and 30 November 2015.
Prosecuting, fiscal depute Gerard Drugen said McGarry had been £3,750 behind in rent arrears between 2012 and August 2013. She had been asked to pay £1,000 a month in September 2013 until the rent was repaid.
He said: “Ms McGarry continued to have money problems and in February 2014 she met Humza Yousaf (now justice secretary) and told him she had been unable to pay her rent.
“He transferred £600 from his bank account to hers, which she later repaid.”
McGarry gave her bank details for the Our Voice crowdfunding initiative, which raised more than £10,000.
It was in her account by April 2014, and was spent by early June, some of it legitimately, the court heard, but some on her rent and “lifestyle spending”.
Another £750 raised for the Perth and Kinross food bank, which would have provided food for 30 families, never reached the organisation.
McGarry went on a week-long holiday to Spain with her husband with some of the money. He paid for the holiday on his Barclaycard, on to which she had transferred WFI money.
She was an MP for Glasgow East in 2015, but quit the SNP after the allegations of embezzling emerged. She did not seek re-election in 2017.
The former politician had also used cheques drawn from the WFI bank account to put money into her own account.
She admitted embezzling £4,661.02 while she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow regional association of SNP from April 2014 to August 2015.
Her WFI colleagues became suspicious and had an emergency meeting about accounts in November 2015.
Mr Drugan said: “They identified a possible shortfall of funds for which there was no explanation and they decided she should be reported to police.”
Allan Macleod, McGarry’s lawyer, said: “The accused’s position is still and remains that she did not commit these crimes.
“There are substantial parts of the narrative that has been heard by your Lordship that the accused’s position is that they are factually inaccurate.”
Her lawyer said he would address those issues at the next sitting, scheduled for 6 June.