Shamed ex-MP Natalie McGarry freed from prison 5 nights into 18-month sentence

A former SNP MP has been freed from prison ahead of her potential appeal against conviction and sentence for her embezzlement conviction.

Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 4:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 5:46 pm
Natalie McGarry was jailed for 18 months at Glasgow Sheriff Court last week after being convicted of embezzling more than 25,000 from pro Scottish independence groups. Picture: SWNS

Lawyers acting for Natalie McGarry,37, succeeded in securing interim liberation for their client following a hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Judge Lord Turnbull made the decision to grant Ms McGarry bail after hearing submissions from the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson QC.

The former politician was jailed for 18 months at Glasgow Sheriff Court last week after being convicted of embezzling more than £25,000 from pro Scottish independence groups.

Sheriff Paul Crozier imposed the jail term on the former SNP parliamentarian after hearing how she took £21,000 from her party’s Glasgow Regional Association and Women for Independence.

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Some of the money included in the sum taken included donations meant for a food bank.

Her spending included rent, a holiday to Spain, transfers of money to her husband and other lifestyle expenses.

McGarry, who was the MP for Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, pled guilty to two charges of embezzlement in a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court last month. Sentence had been deferred for the court to obtain reports about her character.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Crozier said: “You have fallen very far short of the standards the general public should expect from their elected representative.

“There is no alternative than a custodial sentence as you have shown no remorse.”

On Tuesday, Ms McGarry, of Clarkston, Glasgow, wasn’t brought to court in Edinburgh to hear her lawyer address Lord Turnbull.

Judges haven’t yet decided whether she has legal grounds to appeal against her conviction or sentence.

It is understood that judges will decide on whether Ms McGarry can proceed with her appeal sometime in the near future.

Her legal team claimed that Ms McGarry is the victim of a miscarriage of justice and that she had received “defective” legal representation during the sheriff court proceedings.

Her lawyers also argued that Ms McGarry suffers from poor mental health and doesn’t pose a risk to public safety.

Lord Turnbull agreed to grant bail on Tuesday afternoon.