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Ex Health Secretary Jeane Freeman feels 'vindicated' after calling in police over disgraced Natalie McGarry

By Paul Hutcheon

A former Health Secretary says she and her fellow female activists feel vindicated after calling in the police over Natalie McGarry’s embezzlement.

Jeane Freeman said she was “relieved” after McGarry was found guilty and said many people felt “betrayed” by the former SNP MP’s criminal actions.

McGarry, who represented Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was convicted of two charges of embezzlement – totalling £24,635 – following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

A jury found her guilty by majority of a charge of embezzling £19,974 while she was treasurer of Women for Independence (WFI) between April 26 2013 and November 30 2015.

She was also found guilty by majority of a second charge of taking money between 2014 and 2015, when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.

Freeman, a founding member of WFI who rose to become Health Secretary during the pandemic, was one of a group of women who contacted the police about McGarry and the missing money.

Speaking to the Record, she said: “I am relieved we have finally got to the end of what has been a very long process.

“It’s been really distressing for everyone involved and I’m pleased that the verdict of the jury not only vindicates those of us who were involved in terms of taking the matter to the police, but also that what we were saying was correct, that there was a large amount of money for which no explanation or account was given.”

She added: “The jury has seen all the evidence, heard all the witness testimony and has reached the view that it’s reached, and I think that is a vindication that we were right to do what we did.”

“I think many feel betrayed by Natalie because the organisation worked, and still works, on the basis of trust.”

“It is important that in politics we trust what each other is doing when we are working together.”

“I am deeply sorry that Natalie’s behaviour in any way jeopardised that.”

“We got to a place where we got no explanation for this missing amount of money.”

Sheriff Tom Hughes told McGarry she had been given a position of trust by the two organisations, which had helped her get elected to Westminster.

He said: “What you have been convicted of are a series of incidents which took place over a long period of time.

“It was not a one-off incident. There were a number of transactions carried out by you to allow you to carry out this crime.

“There’s a significant breach of trust in all of this. You were asked to deal with the finances of both Women for Independence and the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.”

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Dive Deeper:
Former MP Natalie McGarry found guilty of embezzling funds from pro-independence groups
McGarry had been accused of embezzling more than £25,000 from two pro-independence groups.
Ex-MP Natalie McGarry guilty of embezzlement in ‘significant breaches of trust’
The former Glasgow East MP has been found guilty of embezzling just under £25,000 from two pro-independence groups.
Ex-SNP MP Natalie McGarry found guilty of embezzling almost £25k
A jury found the former MP for Glasgow East guilty by majority of a charge of embezzling money while she…
Natalie McGarry: From high-flying Westminster career to embezzlement conviction
The former MP has been found guilty of embezzling almost £25,000 from two pro-independence groups.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Former Glasgow MP Natalie McGarry embezzled cash and complained of being 'skint' on £64k salary
A jury found McGarry, who represented Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, guilty by majority of embezzling money while treasurer…
Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry guilty of embezzling more than £24,000
Former Glasgow MP accused of ‘significant breach of trust’ after thousands in pro-independence campaign funds transferred to her bank account
Get all your news in one place