• January 15, 2024

The mystery surrounding the death of SNP member and environmental campaigner Willie McRae almost forty years after his death has an enduring focus. It even inspired a crime fiction novel some years ago by award winning Scottish writer Ian Rankin.

McRae was a prominent nationalist figure in the 1980s and a vocal critic of the UK nuclear lobby declaring on one occasion “nuclear waste should be stored where Guy Fawkes put his gunpowder.” .

McRae’s death on April 7th 1985 on a lonely Scottish road in the Highlands has long been surrounded by controversy and many people in Scotland firmly reject the official verdict that the campaigner committed suicide. For their part authorities are stubbornly resistant to a thorough examination of the event and some of the strange behaviour of officials thereafter.

Information which came to light some years ago suggests the gun which McRae was supposed to have used to kill himself has disappeared from police evidence along with other crucial evidence about the case. It was also revealed that the gun was not dusted for fingerprints and nor was any forensic evidence gathered at the death scene.

John Finnie, a Green Party candidate for the Highlands and Islands, claimed at the time that the case had always “been fuelled by a dearth of some fundamental information”. He said:

“The public will be rightly astonished that the weapon allegedly used in this case was neither fingerprinted nor subject to basic forensic examination”.

In 2007, it was first revealed that statements were missing from the police files on the case. It is now understood that these statements were from former officers of the Northern Constabulary. And that both statements are missing from the Crown Office files on the case.

The Crown Office had evidence that the statements existed in 1985, but no explanation has been offered as to why no moves were made to secure them, or why they were ignored.

More recently a Nurse who attended to McRae in the ITU was quoted in the National saying the did not accept the suicide suggestion (see link).

McRae is reported to have been on the radar of British Intelligence and his house has been burgled on numerous occasions.

Despite repeated news focus on the McRae issue including a documentary in 2021 the case remains a mystery. Next year will mark the fortieth anniversary of the Nationalists death with no explanation of the curious case realised.






Bernard Moffatt

AGS Celtic League (14th January 2024)

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