Monday, November 30, 2015

Jingo bells, jingo bells, jingle all the way, SNP MP Natalie McGarry’s lawyer ‘demands’ audit report from Women for Independence citing ‘natural justice’, human rights allow for a fair trial, anyone know what ‘law’ requires WFI to hand over their audit report to McGarry’s lawyer, too late for natural justice, Police Scotland have been called in, jog on Anwar, you are entitled to nothing yet!

Dear All

If you think back to a few days ago, I was blogging on the SNP MP Natalie McGarry saga.

On Wednesday, November 25, 2015, I wrote the blog post:

“The Mad, the Sad and the Ugly, SNP MP Natalie McGarry resigns the SNP whip, her ‘pal’ Shona McAlpine throws accusations about that WFI are ‘bullies’, and unpopular Nicola Sturgeon refuses to suspend McGarry, instead of being ‘statesmanlike’ Sturgeon yet again decides to ‘play the tradesman’, is this the "talent" who think they will lead Scotland to independence”.

It proved to be quite a popular post with many people coming to the blog to read the George Laird view.

One of the things which interest me is Law, and especially Human Rights law, under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a person is entitled to a fair trial.

What does a fair trial mean?

In a criminal trial, it means many things, for example, the Judge must not be bias, the defence is entitled to all the evidence, in advance, that is to be presented by the prosecution; and the jury has to be selected at random, and not have any association to either party in the dispute.

That is roughly the general jist as most people grasp it.

Women for Independence have called in Police Scotland to investigate alleged discrepancies in a pro-independence campaign group's finances. On twitter, I posed a question, given that ‘friends’ of McGarry have indicated that the financial arrangements at the Women for Independence were highly chaotic, my question was, was the return submitted to the Electoral Commission in order?

The reason, I ask McGarry’s pals claim this was the case particularly in the run-up to the independence referendum. Instead of closing down one can of worms, McGarry’s pals have opened up another important issue. Recently you may remember that Wings over Scotland aka Rev Stu was recently fined by the Electoral Commission.

When the WFI found alleged discrepancies, this apparently ran to the tune of circa £30,000, it quickly became known that McGarry was allegedly at the centre of the controversy, the paypal account was also allegedly controlled by Natalie McGarry.

Very quickly Women for Independence were quickly badmouthed by McGarry’s friends including Shona McAlpine. McAlpine was a follower of the hate account on twitter called @georgemlaird setup by Tommy Ball who pled guilty on the 29th October, Natalie McGarry promoted this account and McAlpine along with Jonathan Mackie, who is the office manager of Chris Stephens both retweeted McGarry’s tweet linking the account to my blog. 

I don’t as I wrote on Wednesday put any weight to what McAlpine says on anything.

But, let’s get back to Natalie McGarry, at present her lawyer, Aamer Anwar (who is connected to Nicola Sturgeon) is demanding the release of an audit report by Women for Independence.

Is Natalie McGarry entitled to a copy of the audit report?

The answer to this is No!

McGarry isn’t entitled at present to anything, because although there is an investigation, she hasn’t been charged with any criminal offence. Her human rights therefore haven’t been violated and as much as her lawyer can scream, it is entirely hot air out of him.

And her lawyer knows it is hot air, no entitlement to nothing, so when Anwar said he wants to bring in forensic accountants to examine accounts, this was utter rubbish in my opinion, what exactly were they going to examine without authorisation from WFI?

Anwar says information held by Women for Independence should be released to his team to aid the investigation. What does he mean by ‘aid’ the investigation; when the Police were brought in to this affair; any chance of ‘aid’ by Natalie McGarry or anyone representing her went straight out the window. Women for Independence aren’t going to be dealing with McGarry or Aamer Anwar, they won’t be passing on the audit, and they won’t be having an exchange of views.

Anwar said:

“If Women for Independence want to get to the bottom of this shambles, it is essential that we are provided with full details of what they allege the financial discrepancies to be”.

If SNP MP Natalie McGarry is charged by Police, she will get full details!

“Nobody has been able to even provide definitive details of what went wrong. My firm will be approaching Women for Independence to request this. It would be very helpful to know what the discrepancies actually are and what accounting methods were used”.

If SNP MP Natalie McGarry is charged by Police, she will get full details of that as well.

“To date a copy of the so-called audit has not even been provided to Natalie. Surely natural justice means that she is entitled to such information and be allowed to answer the serious questions she faces. Cooperation by the Women for Independence would be helpful to everyone and stop the damaging wild speculation and trial by media.”

Natural Justice, is he having a laugh?

Apparently, it has been alleged that WFI tried on multiple occasions to have their concerns dealt by contacting McGarry regarding the financial situation, with no luck it appears.

Did Natalie McGarry deny the members of the WFI ‘natural justice’ by not providing them with enough information to satisfy their concerns?

This isn’t an issue of natural justice, once the Police turned up, it became a Police matter, and the Police operate to the law of the land.

It is in the public domain that the audit was carried out by two senior Women for Independence figures and a chartered accountant. Given a chartered accountant was involved, it must be assumed that WFI felt that a professional was needed to be brought into this matter in the interests of transparency to allow the board to make a decision how they should proceed.

Women for Independence have presumably handed the audit report into the hands of Police Scotland, and no doubt WFI will have kept a few copies for their files.

This ditto of the saga: did amuse me from a McGarry source:

“People were demanding travel expenses, hotel rooms and equipment and receipts weren't always provided. It seems everybody is jumping on the bandwagon and saying Natalie was the only person involved, but that's unfair. People like Carolyn Leckie, Jeane Freeman and Susan Stewart were all central in the organisation.”

Tut, tut, tut, trying to rope in other people, does this source have evidence of receipts weren't always provided? If they do, can they explain if they made this information available to the Electoral Commission?

Aamer Anwar demands for the report will be ignored; so far Natalie McGarry’s human rights haven’t been broken by anyone as far as I have read. The WFI should refer him to Police Scotland and not engage with him, his firm or Natalie McGarry.

The ‘Natural Justice’ argument is rubbish, and it really doesn’t look like Aamer Anwar will be directing the WFI or Police Scotland’s investigations. And as someone remarked to me at the weekend, no one will be getting 'coached' prior to possibly being interviewed by Police Scotland.

Finally, it has been reported that SNP MP Natalie McGarry paid £6,000 to Women for Independence after getting elected, £6,000 isn't £30,000, and apparently the SNP is refusing to disclose when Nicola Sturgeon first knew of financial allegations involving McGarry.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Anonymous said...

Something like this, relatively unimportant to the SNP in general, will cause the crash to the House of Cards that is the completely bogus Independence movement.
Sturgeon is on a tightrope and doing not too bad with the balancing act.
But how long to go?
Luck sweeps over in waves. So does bad luck.

Anonymous said...

you create your own bad luck by supporting and surrounding yourself with idiots.

I expect a lot more bad luck will come in the future.

Freddy said...

I'm sure Natural Justice will prevail George hopefully resulting in a spell in cornton vale :)