A FORMER SNP MP from Inverkeithing who embezzled thousands of pounds from pro-independence groups has been sent to prison.

Natalie McGarry, 37, spent the money – more than £25,600 – on rent, a holiday to Spain with her husband, transfers of money to him and other lifestyle spending, Glasgow Sheriff Court was told.

Today, the former St Columba’s High School pupil was jailed for 18 months.

Allan Macleod, representing McGarry, said she continues to maintain she is innocent of the charges.

He said she has had mental health issues over the years, including depression and anxiety and also suffered from post-partum depression following the birth of her daughter in November 2017.

The daughter of long-standing Inverkeithing councillor Alice McGarry pleaded guilty to two charges when she appeared at the court on April 24.

McGarry admitted embezzling £21,000 from Women for Independence in her role as treasurer of the organisation.

She pleaded guilty to transferring money raised through fundraising events into her personal bank accounts and failing to transfer charitable donations to Perth and Kinross food bank and to Positive Prison, Positive Future between April 26, 2013 and November 30, 2015.

McGarry further admitted embezzling £4,661.02 in the course of her role as treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015.

Her attempt to withdraw the guilty pleas at a later hearing was refused by Sheriff Paul Crozier.

McGarry sobbed in the dock as her lawyer told the court that earlier this week she suffered a "devastating" miscarriage while six weeks pregnant.

Mr Macleod said: "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."

Mr Macleod said the family's finances are in a "perilous" state and McGarry's main concern is for her daughter, who is 18 months old.

He said her husband has two jobs, one at unsociable hours, to support them.

McGarry was elected as an SNP MP in 2015 but resigned the party whip following the emergence of fraud allegations – which she denied at the time – continuing in parliament as an independent.

She was charged by police in 2017 over fraud relating to potential missing funds from Women for Independence, which was set up in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish referendum, and the SNP's Glasgow Regional Association.

McGarry, who represented Glasgow East, did not seek re-election in 2017.