Former MP jailed for embezzlement freed on bail pending potential appeal

11 June 2019, 19:26 | Updated: 11 June 2019, 19:28

Natalie McGarry

A former MP who was jailed for embezzling more than £25,600 from pro-independence groups has been freed pending a potential appeal.

Natalie McGarry was sentenced to 18 months behind bars last week after pleading guilty to two charges of embezzlement in April.

The former SNP MP spent the money on rent, a holiday to Spain with her husband, transfers of money to him, and other lifestyle spending.

The 37-year-old, who has an 18-month-old daughter, was released on bail pending a potential appeal against her conviction and sentence following a hearing before Lord Turnbull at the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the Justiciary Office said.

McGarry embezzled £21,000 from Women for Independence in her role as treasurer of the organisation between April 2013 and November 2015.

She also admitted embezzling £4,661.02 in the course of her role as treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP between April 9 2014 and August 10 2015.

Sentencing her at Glasgow Sheriff Court last week, Sheriff Paul Crozier said: "Your fraud and deceit is of the most serious type. You were in a position of trust and you abused those positions.

"You have fallen very far short of the standards the general public should expect from their elected representative.

"Criminality of this sort involves multiple breaches of trust.

"Your conduct is such that the custodial threshold has been passed and there is no alternative sentence available apart from custodial."

McGarry's defence agent Allan Macleod had last week urged the sheriff to deliver a non-custodial sentence.

He said she has had mental health issues over the years, including depression and anxiety, and also suffered from post-partum depression following the birth of her daughter in November 2017.

McGarry was elected as an SNP member in 2015 but resigned the party whip following the emergence of fraud allegations - which she denied at the time - continuing in Parliament as an independent.

She represented Glasgow East and did not seek re-election in 2017.