Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry committed “significant breaches of trust”, a court has heard, as she was found guilty of embezzling almost £25,000 from two pro-independence groups.
McGarry, who represented Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was convicted of two charges of embezzlement – totalling £24,635 – following a six-week trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
A jury found her guilty by majority of a charge of embezzling money while she was the treasurer of the Women for Independence campaign group between April 26, 2013 and November 30, 2015.
However, the jury deleted a sum of £1,026 from the charge which accounted for donations which were to be made to charities Perth and Kinross Foodbank and Positive Prisons Positive Futures.
She was also found guilty by majority of a second charge of taking money between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015 when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.
Sheriff Tom Hughes told McGarry she had been given a position of trust by the two organisations, which had helped her get elected to Westminster.
He said: “What you have been convicted of are a series of incidents which took place over a long period of time.
“It was not a one-off incident. There were a number of transactions carried out by you to allow you to carry out this crime.
“There’s a significant breach of trust in all of this. You were asked to deal with the finances of both Women for Independence and the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.”
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McGarry, who made no reaction when the verdict was read out, was joined by her family in court.
Over the six-week trial, the court heard from dozens of witnesses, including former health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, who said she reported McGarry after noticing a significant shortfall in WFI accounts.
The ex-SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said she had no idea donations made to the group’s independence Crowdfunder were going from the organisation’s PayPal account into McGarry’s personal bank account.
She also voiced her frustrations at McGarry’s delay in handing over the receipts and invoices which would show what the funds had been spent on.
The court also heard from witnesses that McGarry was strapped for cash and regularly received loans from family and friends.
That included from Health Secretary Humza Yousaf who gave the former MP £600 to prevent her from being evicted from her house.
The court also saw bank records of McGarry’s which showed Crowdfunder donations from WFI being transferred to her own personal account.
It included £10,472.52 on April 29, 2014 and a further £9,848.70 on November 12, 2014 – which she used to pay rent and shopping.
McGarry had said these were “legitimate” expenses which she had incurred and which she was reimbursing herself for.
About £5,000 or £10,000 of expenses were incurred on banners and badges, she said.
These had been paid for by significant cash donations amounting to about £1,500 to £1,600 per month from family members – including her aunt, Tricia Marwick, a former Holyrood presiding officer.
Of the donations, Sheriff Hughes continued: “There were lots of people contributing [to the Crowdfunders] who really were not able to afford it.”
Sheriff Hughes released McGarry on bail for background and social work reports. She is expected to appear for sentencing on June 30.