A former SNP MP was “overwhelmed” as he tried to juggle an election campaign while organizing merchandise for local pro-independence groups, a court heard.
Natalie McGarry40, said she was shocked by the surge in demand for T-shirts, mugs and banners in the post-referendum period.
The former Glasgow East MP is on trial Glasgow Sheriff Court accused of embezzling £21,000 between 23 April 2013 and 30 November 2015 while he was Treasurer of Women for Independence (WFI).
A second charge alleges she took in £4,662 between 9 April 2014 and 10 August 2015 when she was Treasurer, Secretary and Chair of the SNP’s Glasgow Regional Association (GRA).
McGarry of Clarkston denies both charges.
The court heard demand for supplies, merchandise and banners exceeded the group’s orders — even after the referendum.
Dozens of merchandise inquiries were poured in across the country and forwarded to McGarry’s personal email address.
The court was shown email recordings of Kathleen Caskie, then a salaried employee at WFI, directing local groups to contact McGarry directly for inquiries about merchandise.
And in February 2015, an email was sent to members of the pro-independence group asking if someone could take McGarry’s merchandise stewardship.
Defense attorney Allan Macleod asked McGarry if she knew how many local WFI groups there were.
McGarry said she didn’t know the exact number but said there was “phenomenal” demand as the court was shown recordings of 24 events organized by local groups between mid-February and late March 2015.
An emotional McGarry wept in court as she recounted the busy period.
She said: “I feel a bit vindicated when I see this in black and white because people (who provide evidence) said that not much happened after the referendum.”
When asked by Mr Macleod if she had asked for help, she said: “Yes, I had.
“It was overwhelming. I was out every day trying to fit Women for Independence into my campaign.”
The court also heard that McGarry used WFI funds to reimburse some members for travel expenses but did not explain this to the rest of the group to protect members who were in dire financial straits.
She said: “It was a delicate balance, knowing the financial situation of some women compared to others.
“Some were embarrassed about their financial situation and I didn’t think it was my place to share that with anyone.”
The trial before the sheriff Tom Hughescontinues.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/natalie-mcgarry-snp-glasgow-sheriff-court-tom-hughes-b2072214.html Natalie McGarry was “overwhelmed” at juggling her responsibilities, the court said