NATALIE McGarry has been jailed for 18 months after embezzling thousands of pounds from pro-independence groups.

Sheriff Paul Crozier knocked back a last-minute plea for a community sentence from the ex-MP’s lawyer, telling the court that the sentencing threshold had been passed.

He said she had shown “no remorse” for her conduct and “tried to avoid responsibility” for her actions.

McGarry stole more than £21,000 from Women for Independence and £4,661.02 from the SNP’s Glasgow Regional Association.

The embezzled cash was spent on debts, a holiday to Spain with her husband, and other lifestyle spending.

Though she had initially admitted guilt when she appeared at the court in April, she later unsuccessfully attempted to have that plea withdrawn.

READ MORE: Natalie McGarry owed thousands when she embezzled £25k from Yes groups

Allan Macleod, who represented McGarry, said his client maintained her innocence.

In his plea for mitigation, he also shocked the court when he revealed that McGarry had suffered a miscarriage just three days ago. 

Macleod told the court: “She describes her life as almost intolerable.
“Two weeks ago she considered that life could not get any worse, and then it did.

“She was pregnant and miscarried, that happened on Sunday and that is something that for her has been absolutely devastating.

“She is at the lowest point in her life she has ever been. Her career is ruined, her reputation is in tatters, she has lost friends, colleagues, her reputation and job, and now her child.”

Macleod went on to say say that her family’s finances were in a “perilous” state and McGarry’s main concern is for her daughter, who is 18 months old.

He said her husband, Tory councillor David Meikle, has two jobs - one at unsociable hours - and would find it difficult to support the family if she was sent to jail.

Sheriff Crozier, however, said it was of note that “at no time throughout the conduct of this prosecution before me has any verification of any of the matters raised in mitigation been provided to me”.

He told McGarry: “Your fraud and deceit is of the most serious type. You were in positions of trust, albeit voluntary and not paid, and you abused those positions.

“You have, through your conduct, fallen very far short of the standards that the general public should be able to expect from not only those whom they entrust with their hard earned money to use for specific purposes but in your case their elected representative.

“Despite your knowledge of your financial position and the financial irregularities in your dealings with the organisations with which you were involved it is of note that you allowed yourself to be nominated, selected and returned as the Member of Parliament representing the people of Glasgow East constituency and the Scottish National Party from 7 May 2015.”

He said the appropriate sentence would have been 21 months imprisonment, but that it would be “reduced to 18 months’ imprisonment to reflect the utilitarian value of your plea.”

In a statement, Women For Independence said they were “pleased that the trial is now over.”

“The missing money represented donations from women and men across Scotland to support the organisation’s campaigning for Independence. For many these donations were a real sacrifice. “

The said that they had “no influence on the sentencing diet and recognise that we were not the only party injured by her actions.

“We respect the sheriff’s decision given his comments on the seriousness of the matter. We are frustrated however that there are not more alternatives to prison available for sheriffs to consider”.