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Crown 'to retry Natalie McGarry if she wins appeal'

Lawyers acting for the former SNP parliamentarian want appeal judges to quash her conviction.

By STV News

Published 26 Sep 2019.

Prosecutors would bring former MP Natalie McGarry back to court if she won her appeal against embezzlement convictions, a court has heard.

Prosecution lawyer Alex Prentice QC told judge Lord Menzies on Thursday that the Crown would retry Ms McGarry for stealing more than £25,000 from pro-Scottish independence groups.

Mr Prentice made the admission during a short procedural hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

Lawyers acting for the former SNP parliamentarian want appeal judges to quash her conviction.

They claim their client - who was jailed at Glasgow Sheriff Court for 18 months in June - had received "defective representation" from her previous legal team.

Ms McGarry, of Clarkston, Glasgow, wasn't present in court and the case called with court officials announcing her as "Natalie Meikle" - she is married to Glasgow Conservative councillor David Meikle.

On Thursday, Mr Prentice asked Lord Menzies to pass an order which would restrict what the press could report about proceedings.

When Lord Menzies asked why, Mr Prentice said he was concerned that reporting of Thursday's proceeding could "prejudice" future hearings.

He added: "If Ms McGarry is successful with this appeal, the Crown would move for a retrial."

The former politician was jailed after being convicted of taking cash she wasn't entitled to from the SNP's Glasgow Regional Association and Women for Independence.

Some of the money included in the sum embezzled included donations meant for a food bank.

She spent the money on rent, a holiday to Spain, transfers of money to her husband and other lifestyle expenses.

McGarry, who was an MP between 2015 and 2017, plead guilty to two charges of embezzlement at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Crozier told McGarry: "You have fallen very far short of the standards the general public should expect from their elected representatives.

"There is no alternative than a custodial sentence as you have shown no remorse."

In June, lawyers acting for the accused appeared at the Court of Criminal Appeal to ask judge Lord Turnbull to release her from prison on bail.

Lord Turnbull agreed to grant bail. A judge later found that her appeal should proceed.

On Thursday, defence advocate Claire Mitchell QC told the court that she was acting as junior counsel in the case. She said that top Scots lawyer Gordon Jackson QC would be acting as the main lawyer in the case.

She also told the court that Ms McGarry's solicitors were continuing to work on preparing the appeal.

Mr Prentice then withdrew his motion to impose reporting restrictions.

Lord Menzies continued the case to another procedural hearing which will take place on October 10.

The judge also said the actual appeal will take place shortly before Christmas.

He added: "I understand a hearing has been pencilled in for December 19."