WITNESSES in the Crown Office’s case against Natalie McGarry have been told the trial could last as long as eight weeks, The National understands.

The former SNP MP faces three charges of embezzlement, two charges under the Scottish Independence Referendum Act and one charge under the Regulation of Investigatory

Powers Act.

The preliminary hearing will be at Glasgow Sheriff Court on February 21. It’s understood that depending on McGarry’s plea that could lead to an eight-week trial, with jury, starting mid-April.

McGarry is accused of embezzling a total of more than £41,500 while acting as treasurer of the Women for Independence (WFI) group, and as treasurer, secretary and convenor of the Glasgow Regional Association of the Scottish National Party.

It is claimed she 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 accused of using cheques, held in the name of WFI, to deposit money into her own account.

McGarry first appeared in court last March under her married name Meikle, and made no plea. She was granted bail.

McGarry became the SNP MP for Glasgow East in 2015 and resigned the party whip after the allegations emerged.

Police launched an investigation in November 2015 when members of WFI’s national executive committee passed on findings from an internal audit showing discrepancies in the group’s accounts, with tens of thousands of pounds unaccounted for.