A former MP accused of embezzling hundreds from a pro-Scottish independence group supplied to pay “excellent” funds, a court docket has heard.
Natalie McGarry, 40, who represented Glasgow East, is accused of embezzling greater than £25,000 from two Scottish independence marketing campaign teams, together with Ladies For Independence (WFI).
She is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Courtroom charged with misappropriating £21,000 between April 26 2013 and November 30 2015 whereas she was treasurer of the organisation.
It’s alleged that McGarry transferred money produced from fundraising into her personal private accounts and didn’t ship donations meant for Perth and Kinross foodbank and the charity Constructive Prisons, Constructive Futures.
A second cost she faces is allegedly embezzling £4,611 between April 9 2014 and August 10 2015.
McGarry denies the 2 expenses in opposition to her.
Showing as a witness, former well being secretary Jeane Freeman mentioned her “annoyance” with the time it was taking for McGarry to offer the monetary particulars, together with the group’s PayPal account.
Ms Freeman additionally informed the jury that she had no thought PayPal funds from the organisation’s independence Crowdfunder had been linked to McGarry’s checking account.
Ms Freeman, ex-MSP for Cumnock, Carrick and Doon Valley, wrote to McGarry alongside fellow WFI member Carolyn Leckie to demand all receipts and invoices be equipped.
And in an electronic mail dated September 11 2015, McGarry replied: “I’ve been taking this extraordinarily critically.”
Within the electronic mail McGarry stated she had ordered her personal private financial institution statements to point out proof, nevertheless she stated her financial institution solely supplied statements from the earlier six months, and he or she needed to order earlier ones at a price of £5 every.
McGarry additionally returned £6,436 of WFI money that was saved in her checking account, in response to the e-mail.
“I’ve transferred the cash and despatched transcripts for PayPal and have despatched the receipts that I’ve,” she informed Ms Freeman and Ms Leckie.
She continued: “Maybe it could be pertinent should you may inform me what determine you see to be excellent.
“I’m greater than ready to pay what you see because the excellent steadiness till it’s proved undoubtably that the cash was paid out, at which level it may be reimbursed.”
Nevertheless it had been revealed earlier in court docket that McGarry had used a mortgage to pay again a number of the independence organisation’s funds.
Ms Freeman informed the jury that she had no thought the £6,436 was paid again through a mortgage.
And it could not have been truthful, she stated, to offer McGarry a sign of how a lot money was lacking till all receipts had been equipped and an investigation had been carried out by Elizabeth Younger, the accountant who overtook McGarry’s monetary obligations at WFI.
In response to McGarry’s electronic mail, the previous MSP for Cumnock, Carrick and Doon Valley informed Ms Leckie at 23.29 that McGarry’s feedback had left her “pissed off” because of the accused’s try and “play the excessive floor”.
Ms Freeman wrote to Ms Leckie that the monetary hole can be decided by Ms Younger’s investigation – the accountant who took over McGarry’s monetary obligations.
She wrote: “That’s the hole and he or she has to pay it – in full and directly.”
And within the court docket listening to, Ms Freeman stated McGarry, who was in control of funds at WFI, ought to solely have used her personal checking account as a short lived maintain for the funds earlier than transferring them on to the WFI account.
A WFI checking account was arrange, nevertheless McGarry required the signatures of two different campaigners earlier than she reimbursed bills.
Within the meantime, “dozens” of bills had been coming in every day, in response to McGarry’s lawyer Allan Mcleod.
And because of the quick nature of the marketing campaign, if WFI members equivalent to McGarry paid for supplies out of their very own pocket she ought to have claimed it again on bills.
McGarry might have been unable to journey to get the signatures from the opposite members every time a cheque needed to be written.
However Ms Freeman supplied to assist McGarry on numerous events, she informed the court docket.
She stated: “Natalie McGarry and I lived not too far aside and I travelled an important deal for campaigns and enterprise alternatives and I may have assisted.”
McGarry may even have informed the members that the method requiring two signatories was not working.
The jury additionally heard that Ms Freeman stated the accused “on occasion gave the impression to be fairly disorganised”.
Nevertheless she was “unwilling” to simply accept provides of assist because the independence group grew in recognition and obligations escalated.
The trial, earlier than Sheriff Tom Hughes, continues on Friday.