Natalie McGarry: Former SNP MP facing jail for pocketing more than £25k in donations
SHAMED former MP Natalie McGarry pocketed more than £25,000 from pro-independence groups to go on holidays abroad and pay her rent.
McGarry took the cash – some of which had been destined for a food bank to feed 30 hungry families – and went to Spain with her husband David Meikle, a Glasgow Conservative councillor, later repaying funds to his bank account.
The ex-SNP politician had even been offered help by the party for her apparent money troubles and MSP Humza Yousaf, now the Justice Secretary, paid her rent.
But McGarry, 37, former Glasgow East MP was snared in 2016 during a financial probe into an independence group where she was treasurer.
McGarry could now face jail after she admitted two charges of embezzlement at Glasgow Sheriff Court. She earlier pleaded guilty to taking £21,000 from Women for Independence (WFI) intended to go to a food bank in Perth and the Positive Prisons, Postive Futures project.
A total of £4661 was taken from the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP between April 2013 and November 2015.
The court yesterday heard details of McGarry’s crimes for the first time following a delay after she sacked previous lawyers..
Prosecuter Gerard Drugan said McGarry had been £3750 in rent arrears and asked Mr Yousaf for a loan of £600.
Mr Drugan said: “She told him she was upset and was unable to pay her rent. She paid the £600 back in six weeks.”
McGarry was asked to appear at a WFI meeting about finances – but claimed she was “too busy to attend”.
She was offered financial help from the WFI and the SNP several times but refused.
A fundraiser called “Last 6 Weeks” in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum raised £7300 but the cash went into McGarry’s account.
Mr Drugan: “These funds were then transferred to her husband, to pay rent, Amigo Loans and assorted lifestyle.”
A bucket collection at the AGM for Positive Prisons, Positive Futures raised £326 but no funds appeared in their account.
A similar collection for the Perth food bank gathered £1500 in October 2014 – to be split between WFI and the charity–- but McGarry took the cash away to count and £750 disappeared.
The court heard that sum would have fed 30 families.
Sheriff Paul Crozier deferred sentencing for reports.
Mother-of-one McGarry, of the city’s Clarkston, near Glasgow had her bail continued meantime.