Former MP Natalie McGarry paid thousands of expenses in cash, court hears

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Natalie McGarry is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court accused of embezzlement (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)
Natalie McGarry is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court accused of embezzlement (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry said “thousands” of pounds in pro-independence group expenses would have been paid in cash, a court has heard.

Natalie McGarry, 40, said the true scale of expenditure incurred during her time at Women for Independence (WFI) could not be quantified by looking at bank statements alone.

The former Glasgow East MP estimated that about £5,000 to £10,000 of costs from tasks such as printing banners and badges would have been paid in cash.

McGarry, of Clarkston, is accused of embezzling £21,000 while treasurer for WFI between April 23 2013 and November 30 2015.

I remember being in a Lloyds TSB feeding £20 notes into a machine to an organisation because we were low on funds

Natalie McGarry

A second charge alleges she took £4,662 between April 9 2014 and August 10 2015 when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.

McGarry, who is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, denies both charges.

Defence solicitor, Allan Macleod, continued to take McGarry through a reconstruction of events she attended in 2014 which outlines the notes of costs incurred.

The total expenses were noted as £3,815.64 and involved travel to Edinburgh for TV interviews, and independence events on the isle of Mull.

However, McGarry told the court that after going through the diary entries, “there are things we have agreed should be taken off” – including taxi journeys to the BBC offices in Glasgow.

McGarry said the costs she ran up during her time at WFI were much greater than the reconstruction showed, particularly in 2013 where many records were loosely recorded through the WFI email and PayPal accounts.

And many payments would not have been made through bank transfers, she told the court.

When asked by Mr Macleod how much she expected was spent over her time at WFI, McGarry said: “I’m not sure but it’s in the thousands – more than five, possibly 10.”

She added: “I remember being in a Lloyds TSB feeding £20 notes into a machine to an organisation because we [WFI) were low on funds.”

McGarry clarified the sum would have been around £1800 which she believes was paid to the Blank Badges Company for a bulk order. However, the invoice of this transaction, she said, would be in the WFI email inbox, which she does not have access to.

When asked by Mr Macleod if it was a one-off to be paying expenses in this way, McGarry said she had done this “more than once”.

The court also saw McGarry’s busy schedule – both on an after the Scottish independence referendum on September 18 2014.

It included filming of the WFI video in March 2014 at the Pearce Institute in Glasgow and organising the group’s presence at the counts.

She told the court the post-referendum period was a busy period and said the accounts of her schedule made a “mockery” of an earlier witness testimony by Kathleen Caskie which suggested McGarry did not have much of a role in WFI after the vote.

The trial, before Sheriff Tom Hughes, continues.

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