Disgraced former SNP MP ordered to pay just £66 after embezzling £55k

Disgraced ex-SNP MP Natalie McGarry is ordered to repay just £66 despite her defence lawyers admitting she had benefited by £55,000 from her criminal conduct, court hears

  • Natalie McGarry was the SNP member for Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017 
  • Her jail sentence was reduced to 20 months and she was released from prison

Shamed former MP Natalie McGarry will have to repay just £66 despite embezzling almost £25,000 from nationalist organisations.

McGarry, who was the SNP member for Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was found guilty of stealing £19,974 while treasurer of Women for Independence.

The 41-year-old also embezzled a further £4,661 while treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.

She was originally jailed for two years in June 2022 but her sentence was later reduced to 20 months and she has since been released from prison.

The Crown Office and McGarry’s defence lawyers agreed she had benefited to the tune of £55,870 from general criminal conduct.

But at a proceeds of crime hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday, it was also agreed that she only had £66.36 available to make recompense. She will pay the sum in full within a month.

McGarry got away scot-free and must now repay just £66 within a month

Yesterday, fiscal depute Brian Duffy confirmed that the £66.36 figure was ‘the only amount available to Miss McGarry towards the confiscation order’.

Allan MacLeod, defending, told Sheriff Barry Divers that an agreement with the Crown accountant had been reached.

The advocate said: ‘There is an agreed benefit figure for general criminal conduct which is £55,870 and there is an agreed available amount of £66.36.

‘There is an agreed joint minute that you make a confiscation order for £66.36 and that will be paid to the sheriff’s clerk within one month of today.

‘Miss McGarry maintains her innocence for the charges and does not accept she committed any crimes. There are statutory presumptions that she accepts apply to her.

‘She is unable to vouch for these amounts that went into her account over a period of ten years.’

He added: ‘She accepts she is unable to rebut the statutory presumptions.’

The order was granted by Sheriff Divers. At earlier hearings, the court was told that the Crown had previously believed McGarry’s benefit figure was £195,241.31, which was then reduced to £110,000. The higher figures had been disputed by McGarry’s defence lawyer. The benefit figure in proceeds of crime cases can be more than the sum gained from the original crime.

Nicola Sturgeon with Natalie McGarry as she won the Glasgow East constituency seat 

The Crown had also been previously examining the spending of McGarry and her husband, former Glasgow Tory councillor David Meikle, over the last 12 years. But an earlier hearing had been told that Mr Meikle’s accounts were no longer being looked at.

McGarry first appeared in court charged with embezzlement in 2018, and was jailed for 18 months the following year after admitting two charges.

She then tried to withdraw her guilty pleas and was released on bail pending an appeal, which quashed her conviction.

Jurors convicted her after a second trial where evidence was heard from witnesses including former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. The court heard McGarry had money troubles and had once been loaned £600 by Humza Yousaf to stop her being evicted from her home.

Bank records also showed money from crowdfunding donations being transferred from Women for Independence to McGarry’s personal account.

Jailing her in June last year, Sheriff Tom Hughes said: ‘It’s quite clear that society has a right to expect the highest standards from those who seek and achieve high public office.’

He added: ‘Your standards have fallen well short of those the public should expect from MPs.’

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