The national WOMEN for Independence committee learned of a discrepancy of £31,824.10 in their known income and expenditure figures in November 2015, jurors have been told in the embezzlement trial of former SNP MP Natalie McGary.
The Yes campaign group were also unaware that their PayPal account had been linked to Ms McGarry’s personal bank account since March 2014.
During her second day on the witness stand, former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, who was instrumental in founding Women for Independence (WFI), was questioned by prosecutor Alistair Mitchell if she was aware that money from three donors set up to raise funds for the group was being transferred to Ms McGarry’s bank account,
Freeman replied, “No.”
Mr Mitchell asked where the witness expected the money to go and she replied: “The WFI bank account.”
The prosecutor later said, “As of March 2014, the PayPal account was connected to Natalie McGarry’s bank account, were you aware of that?”
Freeman replied, “No.”
The former SNP MP is accused of embezzling £21,000 from the campaign group between April 26, 2013 and November 30, 2015 when she was its treasurer.
It is alleged that she transferred money from fundraising events to her own personal accounts and failed to send donations intended for the Perth and Kinross Food Bank and the charity Positive Prisons Positive Futures.
A second charge she faces is that she allegedly embezzled £4,661 from the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015.
She denies both charges.
In her testimony, the ex-minister was also asked about £6,436 of WFI money which landed in Ms McGarry’s bank account and was refunded to the group.
Mr Mitchell said: ‘The money that was repaid to WFI, it is agreed that the source of those funds was a loan repayment to Natalie McGarry, was WFI aware of this?’
Mrs. Freeman replied: “No.”
The former MSP, who stepped down in 2021, told the court she contacted the police as she had a “responsibility” due to roles she and an accountant, Elizabeth Young, had.
Ms McGarry’s solicitor, Allan Macleod, told Ms Freeman that Ms McGarry was ‘not an accountant or (had) accounting qualifications’.
She said: “No, and I think people who have the title of treasurer of a small organization would fall into that category.
“It is not difficult to know how to record income and expenses and obtain information to support these expenses.”
Mr Macleod also suggested Ms McGarry was doing a “lot of work”.
Ms Freeman replied: “Yes, with others.”
In her police statement read out to the court, Ms Freeman told officers: “I was starting to get irritated that if a national committee didn’t submit this information and meet the deadline, it would be embarrassing.
“Natalie said ‘It was everywhere’ and that’s when Elizabeth Young, an accountant, volunteered to do the accounts and it was ideal.”
Ms Freeman was told by Ms Macleod that McGarry was “a little disorganized”.
She replied, “It would be fair to say that from time to time Natalie seemed quite disorganized and it was fair to say that she didn’t want to accept any help.”
Ms Macleod also suggested Ms McGarry was a person who ‘gets things done’ but paperwork was not her ‘strong point’.
Ms Freeman said: ‘It appears to be.
The trial continues.