Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry freed from prison ahead of appeal decision

natalie mcgarry
Natalie McGarry was jailed for embezzlement Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

A disgraced former SNP MP who embezzled thousands of pounds from pro-independence groups, including money meant for a food bank, has been freed from prison ahead of possible appeals against her conviction and sentence.

Natalie McGarry, 37, was jailed last week for 18 months for embezzling more than £25,000 from two groups.

But her lawyers succeeded on Tuesday in securing “interim liberation” for her following a hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

The judge Lord Turnbull made the decision to grant bail after hearing submissions from Gordon Jackson QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.

Sheriff Paul Crozier imposed the jail term at Glasgow Sheriff Court after hearing that McGarry took money from the Women for Independence group and her party's Glasgow Regional Association.

The court heard the former MP suffered a miscarriage before the hearing Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

She spent the money on rent, a holiday to Spain, transfers to her husband and other “lifestyle” expenses.

The sheriff told her that her fraud and deceit was “of the most serious type” and that she had shown no remorse for her crimes.

He added that she had “fallen very far short of the standards the general public should expect from their elected representative”.

McGarry's defence agent, Allan Macleod, had urged the sheriff to impose a non-custodial sentence and told the court that his client had suffered a miscarriage several days before the hearing.

He said: "She was pregnant and miscarried, that happened on Sunday and that is something that for her has been absolutely devastating.”

The former MP for Glasgow East, between 2015 and 2017, had earlier admitted two charges of embezzlement and was refused a later attempt to change her plea.

Judges have yet to decide whether she has legal grounds to appeal against her conviction or sentence.

Her legal team claimed on Tuesday that she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and that she had received "defective" legal representation during the sheriff court proceedings.

Her lawyers also argued that McGarry suffered from poor mental health and did not pose a risk to public safety.