McGarry transferred fundraiser cash into bank before paying her rent, court told

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A former SNP MP, accused of embezzling more than £25,000, transferred thousands of pro-independence group funds from her bank account before paying rent, a court has heard.

Natalie McGarry, 40, said the payments were “legitimate” transfers for what she was owed in expenses.

McGarry, who represented Glasgow East, allegedly embezzled £21,000 while treasurer for Women for Independence (WFI) between April 26 2013 and November 30 2015.

A second charge alleges she took £4,661 between April 9 2014 and August 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.

On April 29 2014, McGarry transferred £10,472.54 raised on an IndyGoGo fundraiser for WFI projects into her own bank account.

Prosecutor, Alistair Mitchell, showed McGarry bank statements and said: “The first thing you did was make a payment for your rent.

“You had £50 in your account prior to that.”

McGarry denied transferring the payments specifically to pay her rent.

She said: “I would not have used the money had I not legitimately spent the money.

“By this point in April, we had spent a lot of money sending out the [WFI] packs and purchasing other things.

“I was due money back from WFI.”

She then added: “I am perfectly content that when these monies were paid I had already spent them on WFI purposes.”

Earlier, McGarry told the court she was not “skint” despite evidence from witnesses claiming otherwise.

She had received £1500 to £1600 in cash each month from family members which allowed her to pay for bills and support her campaigning.

The court earlier heard that McGarry “panicked” when asked to submit receipts and invoices to show her spending for the pro-independence organisation.

McGarry said many of these receipts were not kept, particularly from the early years of the organisation when the group operated on “trust”.

Mr Mitchell asked McGarry if one of the reasons for the significant delay in providing evidence to WFI was because the group wanted full records.

“I think I panicked,” she said. “All of a sudden the new executive wanted (receipts) that we never had.

“In 2013 and 2014 things were quite chaotic. I should have just said, ‘actually we didn’t keep these’.”

McGarry also told the court she had a spreadsheet saved to her iCloud which accounted for her personal outgoings and WFI spending.

Mr Mitchell asked McGarry why this information was not provided to WFI as proof of spending.

However, her phone with the documents were taken as part of the investigation by police, McGarry told the court.

McGarry said when she got her phone back in about 2021, some documents had been removed – including the financial spreadsheet.

“She said: “There was 10 years’ worth of information on there, that’s gone.”

Further bank records showed a sum of £1,200 being paid into McGarry’s account from the WFI PayPal.

Mr Mitchell then showed McGarry statements with payments made to O2, Amigo Loans and clothing stores Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters.

McGarry said: “I did have a life and I did spend money for things using the money that was given to me.”

She told the court it was “umbrage” to deposit the cash gifts from her relatives into her bank account every time.

The court heard that McGarry kept a note of reimbursements she was owed from WFI expenses.

Mr Mitchell said: “You diligently kept track of money going in and out. That seems quite the opposite of disorganised.”

It had suggested earlier in the trial that McGarry was “disorganised” in her filing of information relating to WFI.

She replied: “In terms of making sure I was reimbursed, I had a vested interest in making sure I wasn’t losing out.”

The trial, before Sheriff Tom Hughes, continues.

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