Scotland politics

Natalie McGarry: Former SNP MP denies embezzling £41,500

Natalie McGarry Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Ms McGarry pled not guilty to all of the charges against her when she appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court

A former SNP MP is to stand trial over allegations she embezzled more than £41,500 from pro-independence groups.

Natalie McGarry faces three charges of embezzlement and a further allegation that she refused to give police a passcode for a mobile phone.

The former Glasgow East MP denied the charges when she made her first public appearance at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Sheriff Paul Crozier set a trial date for April of this year.

The court heard that the trial is expected to last between four and six weeks.

The first charge alleges that between 26 April 2013 and 30 November 2015, Ms McGarry embezzled £32,991 in the course of her role as treasurer of the Women for Independence group.

Food bank

It is claimed the 37-year-old transferred money raised through fundraising events into her personal account, and failed to transfer charitable donations to the Perth and Kinross food bank and to Positive Prison Positive Futures.

She is also alleged to have used cheques in the name of Women for Independence to deposit money into her own account.

The second charge alleges that between 9 April 2014 and 10 August 2015 she embezzled £4,661 in her role as treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.

The third charge alleges that she embezzled a total of £3,891 between 1 February and 17 June 2014 by transferring money into her own account that was raised through an online crowdfunding campaign that she set up to raise money for the Yes Glasgow group ahead of the independence referendum.

Ms McGarry faces a final charge under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which alleges she failed to provide a passcode for a mobile phone seized from her by police in August 2016.

Her lawyer, John McElroy, told the court: "I tender pleas of not guilty to the charges on the indictment on behalf of the panel."

Bail was continued by the sheriff.

Ms McGarry was one of 56 SNP MPs elected to the Commons in the 2015 general election, but withdrew from the party whip when the allegations were first made against her.

She continued as an independent MP, but did not stand in the general election in 2017.