By Democrat reporter
Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry will stand trial in May charged with embezzling more than £25,000 from two Scottish independence organisations.
Ms McGarry, who represented Glasgow East, allegedly embezzled the cash between April 2013 and August 2015.
The 39-year-old, from the city’s Clarkston, denies the two charges.
She was excused from attending the hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court during which a six-week trial was scheduled for 4 May.
Ms McGarry’s defence counsel Allan McLeod told the court that Health Secretary Jeane Freeman was “perhaps the most important witness in this case”.
But he raised concerns about her availability during the trial, which begins two days before the Scottish Parliament elections.
“She is not sitting in the election and will no longer be the health secretary by the time the trial starts,” he said.
“I can’t imagine when a new health secretary is appointed… that she will pack her bags without a backwards glance.
“There will be training of a new health secretary with complex issues and will not want the trial to divert from that important work.”
Sheriff Andrew Cubie responded that it was unknown whether Ms Freeman would still have an advisory role.
Prosecutors claim Ms McGarry embezzled £21,000 while treasurer for Women for Independence between 16 April 2013 and 30 November 2015.
It is claimed she transferred cash made from fundraising events into her own personal accounts and failed to send the donations intended for Perth and Kinross food bank and the charity Positive Prisons Positive Futures.
She then allegedly used cheques – held in the name of Women for Independence – to deposit money into her accounts.
The second charge states Ms McGarry embezzled £4,661 between 9 April 2014 and 10 August 2015.
It is alleged that – while Ms McGarry was treasurer, secretary and convenor of Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP – she used cheques drawn from their bank account to pay expenses not incurred by the group.
Prosecutors claim Ms McGarry retained reimbursements intended to settle expenses which she was not entitled to.
The charge goes on to say Ms McGarry used cheques and money from donations to the organisation to deposit money to her own accounts.
Sheriff Cubie continued her bail meantime.