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    Willie MacRae

    The Willie MacRae Mystery 34 Years On – More Likely Murder Than Suicide

    CC BY 2.0 / Ninian Reid
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    In my humble opinion the death of Willie MacRae is even more worthy of a full Public Enquiry now than it was 34 years ago when he died on 6th April 1985 in what can only be described as highly suspicious circumstances. I don’t believe MacRae killed himself.

    I believe foul play caused his death and that the British security forces orchestrated and most probably carried out his murder.

    Those who knew the man well and have followed the story closely over the years refuse to accept the official suicide verdict. I am among those who remain to be convinced that such an intelligent, articulate and motivated man at the height of his influence in Scottish politics decided to pack his pyjamas, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of socks and 2 pillowcases neatly in his black attaché case as he made his way to his Highland holiday home intent on shooting himself in the head while strapped into a car on a remote and dark hillside miles from anywhere in what could only have been a very slow and painful death.

    Willie MacRae is a man who inspires as much controversy in death as he did in life. A brilliant orator and campaigner for various anti-Establishment causes he was a rising star of the independence movement and Scottish National Party. He was a defeated leadership contender for that party in 1979 but was elected their Vice-Chairman and utilised his rich life experiences with his trained legal mind to champion the underdog on many fronts.

    Without his brilliant interventions the 1980 Mullwharcher Enquiry into exploratory borings into Ayrshire hillsides to facilitate the dumping of toxic nuclear waste beneath those hills might have found in favour of the UK Atomic Energy Authority instead of against them and clearly the powerful nuclear establishment resented MacRae for using his skills so expertly to thwart their waste dumping plan.

    Speaking at a Reception after the successful repelling of that proposal MacRae said something which bristles with wisdom and potency for us all today:

    "Don't trust the political Establishment in Scotland or in Britain. That is lesson number one

    Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a Solidarity public meeting in Glasgow city centre which heard from Ron Culley, the author of the fascinating and best-selling book on MacRae entitled, ‘Who Shot Willie MacRae?'. Ron has a long record of involvement in community regeneration projects across Glasgow and was for forty years a member of the Labour Party. He tore up his card in protest at their illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq under Tony Blair. He has always believed in independence for Scotland but was not an SNP fanatic who refused to accept the official line of suicide regarding MacCrae out of party affiliation. He even stood as a Labour Party candidate against the SNP in the first elections to the new re-convened Scottish Parliament in 1999. He did eventually join the SNP during the independence referendum in 2014 and is a passionate independence advocate.

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    He explained to the packed meeting that although his book about Willie MacRae is a work of fiction it is in the genre of ‘historical fiction'. In other words it is informed throughout by facts and actual events and wherever his book departs from established facts he informs the reader. It is a book which really should be read by anyone interested in the Willie MacRae controversy.

    In the course of the meeting, I alerted the audience to the existence of many other important sources concerning Willie MacRae including documentaries, plays and other well-researched books that shed light, and often much heat, on the whole Willie MacRae mystery.

    The absence of a proper Public Enquiry into MacRae's death is a stain on the Scottish justice system in my opinion. The local Procurator Fiscal (the individual responsible for investigating such matters under Scottish Law) definitively declared within days of Willie MacRae's death that;

    "The death has been fully investigated. There is no suspicious circumstances in this case."

    Not just his grammar was questionable. The conclusion was arrived at with undue haste and without proper consideration of all the surrounding and important circumstances. Did he shoot himself and then lose control of the car which was found on a hillside over a brook off the main road?

    Did he crash the car as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and in an act of remorse given the drink driving offences he was already facing decide to reach into his bag for his unlicensed revolver and fire a.22 bullet into his head?

    That is more or less the official theory. Yet MacRae was no stranger to guns. He served in the army during World War Two and fought in France. He also spent time in the security service and was an aide-de-camp to Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten during the period when he occupied the post of Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command based in India. It should go without saying that MacRae was on the side of the freedom fighters in India not imperialist Britain.

    MacRae was also a supporter of the voluntary euthanasia group EXIT and that combined with his knowledge of guns would inform him that a.22 bullet to the side of the head, according to the Post Mortem Report, would have been just as likely to inflict injury and pain as death. It was not an educated choice of suicide for a man of such knowledge.

    Yet there were two of the 7 chamber revolver bullets fired but only one found in MacRae's brain. The gun was not found when MacRae was removed from the crashed car by up to six individuals, including the ambulance driver, an Australian tourist who happened to be a trained aviation accident investigator, a doctor and individual members of the SNP who were flagged down on the road by the worried tourist who along with his wife had spotted the car off the road.

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    The gun was not found, apparently, until the next morning. And it was not found in the car, which had been removed in the late afternoon of Saturday 6th April 1985, but in a small stream or brook which apparently, again, was found under where the car had been sitting before it was removed.

    Some individuals, including his brother, suggested Willie was prone to fits of depression and therefore suicide was not outrageously surprising. But many others, including close friends and his election agent, completely dismiss the idea of suicide as ridiculous. They highlight his state of mind in the days leading up to his death, the imminence of a wedding of the daughter of a very close friend on April 12th he was due to attend and the fact he was pursuing so many cases and causes of interest to him.

    I find myself firmly in the suicide sceptics' camp. The evidence that he was in possession of information regarding nefarious activities by the nuclear industry, the names of illegal drug suppliers and/or the involvement of very senior politicians in an organised paedophile ring from close friends and associates all strikes me as highly suspicious to say the least. His papers appeared to have been rummaged through and partially discarded before he was discovered according to witnesses who first discovered him. But much of the eye witness testimony is, as you would expect, inconsistent. People remember the same things differently. That is just the way our brains operate.

    In the face of official refusals to re-open the case and conduct a Public Enquiry one campaign group raised funds to hire retired detectives to carry out a major examination of the available materials, particularly concentrating on witness statements. That Report is useful and I would recommend it to anyone interested in this whole affair, but I don't accept the conclusion of the Justice For Willie Report and actually suggest the conclusion is not wholly consistent with the Report.

    The most obvious alarm bell should have been sounded when reading the statement of the senior investigating officer [Detective Chief Inspector] (retired) on page 51:

    "I cannot remember who was at the hospital; I know that officers were there before the Chief Constable phoned me; I think DI John Ratter took to do with the hospital enquiry, all that I remember is that from the information obtained from the hospital I knew we were dealing with a suicide."

    Let's get this point absolutely nailed on. Willie MacRae is dragged out of a crashed car in the early afternoon of Saturday 6th April with no obvious wounds other than some blood crusted on his hair and the side of his face according to the doctor and other witnesses. He is taken by ambulance to Raigmore hospital in Inverness as a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) victim. He is examined but remains in a coma and is transferred to Aberdeen hospital where more expertise in brain injuries is available. It is while in Aberdeen hospital that the necessary MRI scan is conducted to discover that a bullet is lodged in his brain.

    So the investigating officer, who thought he was dealing with an RTA victim and had been informed of his high profile political life by one of those who discovered him and helped remove him from the car, has just been informed by his chief constable that this guy has a bullet lodged in his head and he immediately concludes; "I knew we were dealing with a suicide".

    The police had not even recovered a gun yet and already it was a "suicide". That is not consistent with a proper and thorough investigation. That is consistent with an arrival at the verdict with the intention to make sure the ‘evidence' supports that verdict. People who think the police and security services are not involved in domestic assassinations and skulduggery will always express disbelief at those who suggest foul play to fit people up or have them erased but to deny it happens is to deny reality. Please never forget the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six or Maguire Seven amongst many other manufactured miscarriages of British justice.

    The British Security services are now known to have conducted a dirty and illegal war in Northern Ireland. The more visible and bloody assassinations of Ballymurphy in 1971 and Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 should not hide the individual but just as deadly operations against other anti-Establishment figures.

    The likes of Hilda Murell — anti-nuclear activist who investigated the Government's plans to install a pressurised water reactor in Sizewell Nuclear Power Station and uncovered a number of flaws in its waste disposal… Shot in mysterious circumstances in 1984 (the year before Willie MacRae).

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    Dr. David Kelly, 2003, told a reporter that Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell had ‘sexed up' the Iraqi report on weapons of mass destruction. Every aspect of his ‘suicide', his temperament on the day, the method of his death, the discovery of the body and the way in which the state investigated his death (by a public enquiry with limited remit and where the chairman was named as Lord Hutton two and a half hours after Blair had been informed of his death — and before his body had even been identified), instead of a coroner's inquest which would have allowed medical and other evidence to be interrogated, all stank like a sewer.

    As Ron Culley said at the public meeting;

    "There are 195 countries in the world today and Britain has invaded or otherwise thrown rocks at all but twenty-two of them. So the British Empire didn't develop following cheese and wine parties and a subsequent measured analysis by nation-states of the benefits of the protection of the British Crown. Rather, Britain has a history dripping in cruelty, rape, pillage, aggressive incursion, theft of natural resources, slavery, war-crimes, white supremacy, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, murder, drug-running, manipulation…and blood".

    The idea that they would shirk at the knocking off of a nationalist lawyer who had come into possession of some documents which threatened the nuclear industry or could expose a high-level paedophile ring is laughable. The British State is as ruthless as it is cunning and sly. Consult the seminal book ‘The Enemy Within' by Seamus Milne if you want to understand the lengths the state will go to in order to protect the status quo. From infiltration of the National Union of Mineworkers, outlined in the book, to ‘sleepers' placed in other trade unions, political parties and campaigns. It is all fact, not fiction.

    MacRae was definitely under special branch surveillance and regularly followed. There was already overwhelming grounds for a Public Enquiry into his death given the multitude of suspicious circumstances but the explosive revelations last October make the case for such a Public Enquiry unanswerable.

    The acute receiving nurse who dealt with Willie MacRae on the early evening of 6th April 1985 swears the small ‘penny size' bullet wound they discovered was in the base of his neck and explained why it was not found before he was submitted to Aberdeen hospital. She is adamant that MacRae could not have physically shot himself. It was not, therefore, suicide, it was murder. This nurse has nothing to gain from such revelations but her testimony only adds fuel to the already raging flames of mystery surrounding Willie MacRae's death and a cold case unit must now be ordered to re-open the case and a full Public Enquiry ordered. Failure to do so will only remind everyone how sage Willie's advice was in 1980;

    "Don't trust the political Establishment in Scotland or in Britain. That is lesson number one".

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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