A FORMER MP from East Renfrewshire who embezzled almost £25,000 from two pro-independence groups has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Natalie McGarry, 40, was convicted of two charges of embezzlement – totalling £24,635 – last month following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

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

She was also found guilty by majority of a second charge of taking £4,661 between April 2014 and August 2015, when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of the Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.

McGarry, from Clarkston, was jailed for two years by Sheriff Tom Hughes when she returned to court this morning to learn her fate.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Hughes told McGarry she had betrayed people who put their trust in her and that a prison term was inevitable.

He added: "It's quite clear that society has a right to expect the highest standards from those who seek and eventually achieve high public office.

"Through your role in these offences, you have not only betrayed the trust placed in you by others but your standards have fallen well short of those the public should have a right to expect from MPs."

Over the six-week trial, the court heard from dozens of witnesses, including former health secretary Jeane Freeman, who said she had reported McGarry to the authorities after noticing a significant shortfall in WFI accounts.

Ms Freeman said she had no idea donations made to the group's independence Crowdfunder were going from the organisation's PayPal account into McGarry's personal bank account.

She also voiced her frustrations at McGarry's delay in handing over the receipts and invoices which would show what the funds had been spent on.

The court also heard from witnesses that McGarry, who was MP for Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was skint and regularly received loans from family and friends.

That included from Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who gave her £600 to prevent her being evicted from her house.

The court also saw bank records of McGarry's which showed Crowdfunder donations from WFI being transferred to her own personal account.

It included £10,472 on April 29, 2014, and a further £9,848 on November 12, 2014, which she used to pay rent and shopping.

McGarry had said these were "legitimate" expenses she had incurred and was reimbursing herself for.

About £5,000 or £10,000 of expenses were incurred on banners and badges, she said.

These had been paid for by significant cash donations amounting to about £1,500 to £1,600 per month from family members, including her aunt, Tricia Marwick, who is a former Holyrood presiding officer.

McGarry had the SNP whip withdrawn upon reports of the allegations and was suspended from the party but continued to sit as an independent MP.

She did not seek re-election in the snap general election of 2017.