Natalie McGarry: who is the former SNP MP who has pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of pounds?

Natalie McGarry was riding on the crest of a wave when she was elected as an Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow East in 2015.

Natalie McGarry was elected as an MP in 2015.
Natalie McGarry was elected as an MP in 2015.

A landslide general election for the SNP in Westminster, she was one of 56 nationalist candidates to take their seats in the House of Commons as the party's popularity continued to soar.

After missing out on a Holyrood by election in Cowdenbeath in 2014, held following the death of Labour MSP Helen Eadie, McGarry, now 37, won her 2015 seat from former Labour MP Margaret Curran. Her affiliation to the SNP was short lived, however, when in November 2015, following initial allegations of financial misconduct, she withdrew from the SNP party whip. She sat as an independent MP until 2017, when she was not selected as a candidate for the party at the next General Election.

Even after her withdrawal from the party, she continued to court controversy. In 2016, she hit the headlines after being detained in Turkey for taking out her mobile phone near a security check point, apparently to record the sound of bombs falling in neighbouring Syria. During the pro-Kurdish MP's trip to the country with the GMB Union, she paid a visit to Diyarbakir, a city contested by Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Earlier that year, McGarry became embroiled in a Twitter spat with Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who she accused of supporting “abusive misogynist trolls” on the social media platform. She claimed Ms Rowling had “tweeted support” for a Twitter user who goes by the pseudonym Brian Spanner. She later apologised, saying she was sorry for “any misguided inference” that Ms Rowling supported misogyny or abuse.

She was forced to pay out £10,000 in damages to Alastair Cameron, the director of the campaign group Scotland in Union after falsely accusing him of being a “holocaust denier” on social media.

McGarry married Tory councillor David Meikle in 2016, again attracting attention when she voted in the chamber in her wedding dress, having had her union blessed in the Parliament’s St Mary Undercroft chapel. In 2017, she announced on Twitter that she was pregnant after fainting in the tearooms at the House of Commons.

She was one of the founding members of Women for Independence in 2012, saying the idea came about “over a glass of wine” after a group of female politicians realised that women’s voices were “missing” from the independence debate. She was treasurer of the group, during which time she was alleged to have embezzled funds.

Brought up in Inverkeithing, Fife, her mother, Alice McGarry, was the SNP candidate for Dunfermline East in 1987 and has been a SNP councillor on Fife Council since 1986. Her aunt is Tricia Marwick, the former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

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Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry pleads guilty to embezzlement