Former MP Natalie McGarry has been awarded nearly £100,000 in legal aid to tackle rap fraud
FORMER MP Natalie McGarry has been awarded nearly £100,000 in legal aid to fight her rap scam for taking thousands of pounds in political donations, we can reveal.
McGarry, 41, faces jail last night after a jury found her guilty of stealing money from the Women for Independence group she co-founded in 2021.
She pocketed £19,974 from the organization while treasurer, and a further £4,661 from the Glasgow Regional Association of the SNP.
The disgraced former Glasgow East MP – who embezzled huge sums of money into her own bank account – spent the stolen money on rent, takeaway, shopping and holidays in Spain.
But we can now reveal that her legal costs – borne by the taxpayer – have soared to four times the amount she snatched from her Nationalist cronies.
A spokesman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said the bill was £94,355, with legal eagles expecting it to rise in the coming weeks.
A spokesperson said: ‘Legal aid is paid directly to lawyers representing those charged with serious crimes to ensure an appropriate outcome is achieved in a timely manner.
“In lawsuits involving complex financial details, there is often a large amount of documentary evidence, which makes it inevitable that significant fees and expenses will be incurred due to the length of the proceedings.”
The eye-watering sum includes the costs of McGarry’s initial trial, her appeal and the case in Glasgow Sheriff’s Court where she was found guilty of embezzlement on Thursday.
She was jailed for 18 months for stealing the bands’ money in 2019 – then claimed she was not guilty.
The total amount paid for legal aid to solicitors and counsel in fees and disbursements related to this trial is £23,693.
Amid wacky scenes, she admitted to cheating, then later tried to withdraw her plea, but was denied by a sheriff.
She spent six days in jail and then, in a rare judicial measure, was released pending an appeal.
Her lawyers claimed she received “flawed” legal advice during the legal proceedings.
McGarry received £2,476.94 in legal aid for the appeal.
The total paid to date in legal assistance to barristers and solicitors in fees and disbursements related to McGarry’s trial in 2022 is £68,186.
The six-week trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the ex-SNP MP often complain of being ‘skint’ despite her £67,000-a-year Westminster salary.
McGarry, from Clarkston, Renfrewshire, was eventually arrested in 2015 after a financial investigation.
She faces being sent back to jail after jurors ruled she embezzled donations to fund her chaotic lifestyle.
Releasing her on bail until sentencing next month, Sheriff Tom Hughes told her: ‘It was a very serious breach of trust.’
Scotland’s fictitious Conservative Community Safety Minister Russell Findlay said: ‘With Legal Aid under heavy pressure, it is infuriating for taxpayers to be hit with such a massive bill to defend a crooked SNP politician.
“Public money could have been saved if this relatively simple case had not turned into a seven-year saga.”
Scottish Labor Justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeil said: “This has been an embarrassing debacle for the SNP from start to finish.
“Due to the SNP’s poor candidate choice, taxpayers have had to foot the bill for a farcical court case costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“This case has been going on for far too long, with costs rising at every turn. The Scottish taxpayer is right to wonder how we got into this mess.
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