Women for Independence lost a huge amount of money as a result of the embezzlement by Natalie McGarry.
She betrayed our trust but, more importantly, she betrayed the trust of thousands of women and men in Scotland – many of them without cash to spare – who had donated to our organisation expecting their money to bolster our ambitions for a fairer, independent Scotland.
When we reported her to the police, there were many people questioning our motives, people who could not believe she could have done what she did.
The impact on our members who were due to be witnesses in the trial has been horrific. They have endured a great deal of unfair, unwarranted abuse on social media where there have been some really nasty things said about them. That is outrageous, particularly since many were close personal friends of Natalie McGarry, and were already dismayed by the situation she had placed them in.
We inevitably lost some support because of her actions but our membership is growing and we have opened several new branches in recent months.
As an organisation we were, and remain, confident that we did the right thing by calling in the authorities and we continue to campaign on a number of issues, including a better deal for women caught up in the criminal justice system.
There are nearly 400 women prisoners in Scotland and we believe that number must be dramatically reduced, perhaps to 100 or so.
There are only a handful of women in prisons in Scotland who are violent and pose a major risk to the public.
Unless there is a good reason, the rest should not be held in custody but should be sentenced to punishments that fit their crime but are completed in the communities where they live.
We have been pushing for more alternative disposal projects to be set up in Scotland, such as specialist community-based justice centres, which provide support services and aim to stop re-offending.
In this case, we are frustrated there was no attempt to consider an alternative disposal for Natalie McGarry, and other women like her.
We would generally like to see fewer women in prison because of the nature of their offending. For people who have committed serious crime, who are a risk to the public or repeat offenders, or are inherently criminally intent, then prison is the place for them.
The majority of women are in prison for non-payment of fines, debt, prostitution, drug and alcohol-related problems, for example. You have to look at the cost of keeping someone in prison and the disruption to families if children are involved.
Many of the women are in prison because they have chaotic lives. Prison shouldn’t be a substitute for proper homelessness services, drug rehabilitation or alcohol addiction services.
It is not just about having more alternative disposals, but looking at what are the drivers of that type of crime and how that needs to be fixed before we look automatically to arrest, prosecution and court.
Natalie McGarry is just one woman in the justice system and deserves a fair, effective sentence.
So, too, do all the rest.