Thursday, 20 January 2011

A Highlands Mystery

Last year John Finnie, an SNP councillor and former policeman, asked the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, to reopen the case of Willie McRae.

Mr McRae was a solicitor and SNP activist.  He was found badly injured in his crashed car on the A87 near Kintail in Wester Ross in April 1985.  He was travelling to his holiday home in Kintail from his office in Glasgow.

It was initially stated his death was a result of the car crash but further evidence revealed the following:

A bullet wound was found behind his ear.
A .45 revolver about 15 metres from where the car had come to rest.  It had been fired twice.
No fingerprints were found on the gun.
He wasn't wearing gloves.
His briefcase and papers, plus the whisky he bought just prior to leaving Glasgow were missing.

Despite the fact a figure well known in law and political circles had died in strange circumstances, the authorities ruled his death was not suspicious and no fatal accident inquiry was held.  Many argue all the signs point away from suicide and towards something sinister.

In 2006 the then Lord Advocate Colin Boyd ruled out a new investigation, saying there was 'no basis' for an inquiry.

This case has concerned many of my generation who feel there is a definite cover-up considering the evidence. Can we assume it will now be investigated thoroughly and an official inquiry launched?  Twenty-six years is a long time to wait for the truth.

source (among others)


John said...

With the facts you have included, even Insp Cloiseau (?sp) would have done a Taggert - there's been a murder

subrosa said...

Aye I think you're right John. Don't know how the police got away with it really. You would have thought the whole country would have risen in protest wouldn't you when there was that evidence?

How would anyone bother to shoot themselves behind their ear for starters?

RMcGeddon said...

It was a bit strange SR. Shooting himself behind the ear, cleaning the weapon and then throwing it into the heather. A bit more exciting than the Dr Kelly or Robin Cook cases I suppose.
I see Tommy and Gail are starting to take proceedings to find out how the BBC got hold of the stolen police interview tapes. Might be interesting...

cynicalHighlander said...


JRB said...

Conspiracy theories continue to abound around the death of Willie MacRae.

One wonders if, after all this time, a clear, precise truthful interpretation of all that surrounds this case can be made.

Was it suicide? He was very worried about an impending case of drink driving against him, which would most likely see an end to his legal career. His partner in the law firm in which they both worked was sufficiently worried to raise an alarm when he could not contact Willie.

Without doubt Willie Macrae had upset the conservative establishment when he had successfully blocked the dumping of toxic radio-active waste in the Scottish hills.

At home he had upset many political activists with his continuing support for a para-military independence army.

By their own admission Northern Constabulary at first treated this case as a simple road traffic accident. Willie Macrae was initially taken to Raigmore hospital, Inverness, but transferred to Aberdeen because of the head wound. It was their that a bullet was found to be lodged in his skull. By now the original scene of what was a suspicious death had not been preserved having been considered only a simple RTA.

After all this time will we ever really know what happened? I fear not.

subrosa said...

Aye it is strange RM. Very.

Yes I read that this morning. Will be interesting to see what action the AG takes, if any.

subrosa said...

Thanks for the link CH.

subrosa said...

I've read a lot about it JRB and just don't get the suicide bit. I understand he bought the whisky at an off-licence just before leaving Glasgow as I believe he spoke to someone in the street telling them he was off to Kintail.

The whisky was never found and there was no evidence he'd drunk any alcohol.

Indeed he had upset quite a few people.

No we'll never know what really happened but there are still folk alive who could show there was doubt about his death rather than the 'suicide' verdict given.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I would suggest in 1985 we, the general public, were far more naive as to the actions and the underlying motives behind the institutions of government.

The combination of experience and the advances in communication have made us less trusting of authority.

The fault is theirs, and it will continue to feed the conspiracy theories for as long as they abuse their power to obscure facts by cover-ups.

For instace; was this man only under surveillance in town? Were the spooks following him to Kintail? If so, and it was an accident or suicide, couldn't it have been arranged for him to be 'discovered' sooner.

Who knows? The one thing we do, is institutions and many of the people who work for them, are at best selective in the balance between their acts and conscience.

JJ said...

When I first saw the photo at the top of your post...I was going to comment that John Gregson was one of my favourite actors.

Intriguing mystery though, and I suspect that there’s been a concerted cover-up, and a full enquiry is most certainly needed Subrosa.

When certain facts like the lack of fingerprints on the gun and no gloves were found, and the gun being found some distance from the car, after shooting himself he wouldn’t have been capable of course of throwing the gun away and why would he do that anyway? So, what else can that mean other than something odd has taken place and is in need of further investigation?

Isn’t this the same with Dr David Kelly, the weapons inspector who supposedly killed himself?

subrosa said...

I concur RA. It does show the damage politicians have done in the past 16 years and how the public are more cautious about where they place their trust.

It would be strange if, given the evidence, the AG did take the position of Colin Boyd but then an explanation would certainly be required.

subrosa said...

Aye, he does rather look like John Gregson JJ. I thought that too.

This case is now called 'Scotland's Dr Kelly' so you're right even though it is only by such association.

Clarinda said...

"Murtairean - Gun Ainm" Episode 5 on BBC Alba is the particular story with forensic, psychiatric expert, police, journalist interviews and library footage of the circumstances surrounding Willie MacRae's unexpected death. It is sub-titled and all the episodes are regularly repeated usually 10:30pm-ish on a loop. Episode 5 is not currently available on iPlayer.

subrosa said...

Many thanks for the information Clarinda. I will certainly watch out for it.

Anon said...

McRae was murdered by the spooks.

(And, Ben Ali of Tunisia was toppled by the CIA)

- Aangirfan

subrosa said...

I can't argue with you Aangirfan. Not at all.

Strathturret said...

I'd be amazed if MI5 wasn't infiltrating or watching the SNP.

Did Winnie Ewing not get access to some information on McRae as some sort of investigation?

Perhaps McRae's activities might make hime a little bit non PC these days hence no big push for a proper investigation?

subrosa said...

If I remember she did Strathturret but McRae's family didn't want the case reopened.

Auch of course they're watching. Surely everyone knows that.

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