Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Willie Macrae Part 27: Donald Morrison - Evidence in Full

 

In Part 26 I laid out Donald Morrison’s evidence – a policeman who knew Macrae – under three headings: active, historical and on-going involvement of Special branch with Willie Macrae.  Here I publish it as one document including the section which wasn’t relevant for Part 25’s discussion.

Note: This document is available online as a pdf file here.

But first let me explain where this document has come from.

Previously, Donald has spoken to Paula Murray of the Express and to Fergus Ewing.  I haven’t had access to their discussions.  Mark MacNicol (of one of the 3000 Trees plays) put me in touch with Donald.  Over a dozen or so emails Donald sent to one or other of us, key subjects were covered several times.  I then collated and consolidated these emails into categories which suited my thinking.  I wanted to ensure that for each of Donald’s points I extracted the maximum information and  description.  Where necessary, I tweeked grammar and corrected typos. It is important that you know that almost all the words reproduced are Donald’s and not mine.

When completed, Donald checked the consolidated document, added some extra information and answered some clarification questions. I emailed the final document to Donald who signed it off (by email) for publication.

 

Before we come to the document I must say that, in his emails, Donald mentioned some police officers by name.  My understanding is that in reproducing Donald’s words with the names included I would not be defaming those people because I would not be implying any negativity or wrong-doing on their part.  But I do not control the comments that readers might leave here and so, despite the risk being very small, I have removed their names and replaced them with letters.  Be assured though that Donald’s emails included their names.  I retain those names for possible future use.

Enough.  Here is my consolidated version of the information Donald has shared with me and Mark.

 

DONALD MORRISON EVIDENCE 28 MARCH 2015

In 2011, the police took a statement from me on behalf of Rt Hon. Elish Angiolini, Crown Office, Edinburgh.

My first contact with police was on 22 March 2011 when Det. Sergeant GA (now Det Inspector) took a lengthy statement from me. I was aware that they were coming so I secretly contacted Iain Fraser (a former policeman) and he was in my home that day. A Det. Const. obtained a statement from him in a separate room within my home.

 

FRIDAY 5TH APRIL 1985

Between 1100 AM / 12noon on 5th April, the day before Mr Macrae's death, Mr. Roderick MacKay (Manager of Agnew's Store West Nile St.) served Mr. Macrae 2 bottles of Islay Mist whisky & 40 Benson and Hedges cigarettes before he (Macrae) headed north.

I saw Willie coming out of the shop and then placing one of the bottles on the roof of the car while he opened the driver's door and I grabbed the bottle before it slipped to the roadway, The two who were taking ops would have seen this and that bottle would have my prints thereon and that would tie me to seeing him at the car before he set off.

Willie left West Nile St. between 11am and 12.30 at the latest. I know it was no later than 12.30 because at 12.30 I would have been in the police office for lunch. I cannot say he left Glasgow though. What he told me in West Nile St. was that he was heading up north right away to get settled in.

His last words to me were "I think I've got them this time", then he repeated " Yes I've got them this time” as he winked. Again he said for the third time, “I've got them this time" as he patted his bulging brief case. “I have to go through all this during the weekend up in Kintail.“

The body language of the two who were taking surveillance suggested to me that they were very annoyed at me speaking to Macrae as he sat in the car. As a matter of fact I looked over my shoulder two or three times and saw the man in the blue suit with an open hand gesture as if to say "what the hell is this cop speaking to Macrae?”. That was the feeling I got. At that point it crossed my mind to tell Macrae that he was being watched. Now I wish I had.

I stopped traffic to allow him to do a 'U' turn as he headed northwards in West Nile St. I unintentionally caught them (the surveillance two) on the hop. This resulted in them running northwards across Sauchiehall St and along West Nile St pushing pedestrians to the side to allow them to rendezvous with the two waiting cars which were either parked in West Nile St or in Renfrew Lane (which does not exist any more). Both were double-manned and went through red traffic signals burning rubber to tail him. I was so suspicious of the whole exercise that I decided to see for myself what was happening. The second car having gone through the lights and causing pedestrians who were crossing to scatter seemed to apologise to the pedestrians who were shouting at them by extending his right arm out the driver's window - a common practice used by police in a hurry. The manner in which this surveillance was carried out so meticulously made me very, very suspicious.

Having witnessed what happened in West Nile St, Glasgow that forenoon, I knew right away that it was very well planned and was also aware within myself that I would not see Mr. William Macrae alive again. I pulled my radio out of my pocket to inform HQ about what I had seen but decided from doing so because I had not taken the Reg. No. of Willie Macrae's car.

Anyway, I tried to convince myself that Mr Macrae had been under surveillance for some time and that his life was not placed in danger. I went along to Stewart St. police office and told colleagues what had happened. The advice that I was given was 'For your own good keep your nose out of it.' I did fear for my own life and that of my wife.

I was also aware that it was a waste of time reporting the matter to police as they were already aware of Macrae being under surveillance along with Special Branch.

 

SURVEILLANCE AND SPECIAL BRANCH

I have mentioned above the surveillance of Mr Macrae on Friday, 5th April 1985.

 

A short time [see the two paragraphs below] before Macrae's death, Constable DP (now deceased) got a call via his personal radio to attend the premises of William McRae after a suspicious break-in where no cash was ever stolen but filing cabinets only forced open. A short time later another message came over the radio saying that PC DP had attended the premises of William McRae and had found 'highly confidential files that were so important they could bring the government down.' and requesting that Det. Const. WW attends. Det. Const. WW attended and contacted Supt. BH and Special Branch who arranged for all files from Willie's office to be secretly taken to Stewart St. police office to be photocopied. Supt. BH authorised documents being taken to Stewart St. Willie was not present and had not been made aware of this. Willie unexpectedly appeared at his office and was very annoyed at police removing his documents. I was present when Supt. BH told him the lie that his filings were removed in the interest of safety. Willie was raging because of this. There was so much to be photocopied that Supt. BH suggested getting another loan of a photocopying machine from M&S Sauchiehall St.

When taking my statement in 2011, Det. Sergeant GA asked me how long is a 'short time'? Is it 6-12 months? In reply I said I didn't exactly know how long it was but appeared to be short time. He put 6-12 months in my statement.  I could not say for sure that it was a few weeks or even a few months. That is why I wrote to FOI Pitt St. enquiring as to when pc DP was awarded the Chief Constable's Commendation.

The background to this is that DP was awarded a Chief Constable's Commendation for finding the documents that were considered so dangerous that they could bring the government down. To give me an idea of when PC DP found this info I sent an FOI by Recorded Delivery to Insp. C, 173 Pitt St Glasgow G24 JS on 16th Feb. 2015 requesting that I was given the date PC DP (who was my neighbour on occasions in police) was commended by the Chief Constable. They have not acknowledged my letter or sent me a reply!

 

About 4/5 weeks before Willie's death, a former policeman (Mr. Iain Fraser) who had left because of poor wages set up his own private detective agency and had an office in the same office block as Willie Macrae's in Bath St. He received a phone call enquiring if he knew Mr. Macrae. He said that he did know him. This phone was believed to be from Newcastle. Iain was told that Macrae would be attending an SNP conference in Edinburgh on a particular date and he was asked to take surveillance on Willie and the other two people who would be with him. He was than asked to submit his report asap to a Box Number in Newcastle. A few days later he received a cheque for about £130 for a day's work along with another retired police sergeant from Greenock. A week or so later Iain got a job abroad and remained there for several weeks. He was not aware that Willie had met his death until he came back to Glasgow.

 

Willie's executive office in Bath St was broken into 5 times as far as I recall. There was never any cash stolen but his filing cabinets were always burst open. As a rule Tommy Sheridan's small office 5 up at 12/14 Renfield St. was broken into the same night as Macrae's. It was forming a pattern! Macrae's office was 1 up to the right hand side while a Celtic millionaire director's office was to the left on the landing. He told me that he had been there for 28 years and that the security of his property had never been overcome until Macrae arrived. He blamed Willie's presence for the break-ins. I added this in my statement but again this has been deleted.

I wasn't surprised that senior officers whom I approached were not interested about the break-ins and asked me to give him 'flannel'. Willie himself knew that they were not real house break-ins and blamed Special Branch /M15.

 

I was asked to get a copy of keys to the Macrae/Murray/Spence office 1 up in Bath St. To the best of my knowledge this was a considerable time before 1985. Partner Len Murray and Macrae didn't see 'eye to eye' and Macrae left the office they had shared some 2yrs approx. before his demise. He had moved along to another office some 1 hundred yards along westwards in Bath St. I enquired of the senior officer if I could get a copy of the Chubb keys with a pencil. He replied " No, No, this can be done by pushing the keys into wet soap or plasticine.” I was quite friendly with the Commissionaire and admired the way he was turned out sometimes wearing his active Service War medals. I had too much respect for him and did not feel comfortable to ask him as the reply would be more likely negative. However I recall that I did visit the cleaning lady but she was very suspicious of police presence in the lawyers office. So I failed to get a copy of the keys.

 

Also deleted from my statement was this paragraph. I was on uniform patrol one night when dog patrol officers pulled up near to Watt Bros, corner of Sauchiehall St/Hope St. I recall that the driver knew me and stopped to say hello. To the best of my knowledge this would be either pc. Kenny or pc Alasdair (I can't remember their surnames). While speaking to the driver both of us heard a message coming over the AS radio in the van. [Note: This radio was for traffic vehicles, while beat police used a local personal radio system.] The message was to the effect that Special Branch were following Willie Macrae's car (he was a suspected drink driver). They requested that a marked police car attended to stop his vehicle as they could not do so. Mr Macrae, I believe, had a drink driving charge pending. I do not know whether he was stopped or not that night. Once anybody is taken into custody all their personal belongings are removed from them. There is no doubt that should SB wish to do so - they could gain access to examine that property including keys etc. I cannot put a time on this but I feel it may have been probably a year or even more.

 

Between 1975 to 1977, I'm not sure when, I recall being on duty with a colleague in the 5 Ways area Buchanan St/ Bath St, when we received a call asking for our position. We confirmed our position and, shortly after that, police sergeant Y told us that Special Branch and M15 were taking obs. on the premises of Willie Macrae and warned us not to go near the premises that night. Also he added that no marked police vehicles were permitted in the area of Bath St that night. None of these witnesses were contacted by police until I gave them the names 27yrs later.

 

One day, a long time before his death and before he left his office in Bath St, I attended at Willie's former office with a fax message from the Procurator fiscal regarding a sudden court adjournment. The heavy maroon curtains were drawn on a warm summer's day. I pulled the curtains over and Willie said, “No! No”. and indicated that he was under surveillance from property across the road (1 up).

 

Another time, again a long time before his death and before he left his office in Bath St, Macrae reported to Stewart St. police office that a strange blue Triumph car was circling his block. I attended along with a colleague and obtained the registration number and a complaint from him. The Reg No isn't known now. Like most policemen at Stewart St. neither us was really surprised to learn this as we both knew that Willie was under surveillance for some unknown reason: we were never told why! I attended at Stewart St police and asked the controller to do a PNC (Police National Computer check) and the result came back as 'No Trace' as we expected. We went back to see Willie with our findings and told him that that Reg. No. did not exist. He looked at us both for what seemed like a minute and he said " M15 and Special Branch motors are not registered in Swansea”. Supt. BH decided to send two plain clothes officers to visit Macrae about his complaint. Immediately, it was suddenly cancelled after Supt. BH received a telephone message from the Chief Constable's office to say that Mr. Macrae had sent a letter of complaint to Pitt St HQ. It was then decided to send a police Insp. and Sergeant instead of plain clothes to deal with the matter.

 

OTHER POINTS

An inspector from FOI told me that he (Macrae) may have drunk the two bottles and thrown them away. Roddy MacKay only stocked Islay Mist for Willie as that was all he drank. Yet other brands of whisky were found.

 

In my statement I gave the police the address and telephone number of Roderick MacKay who was the manager of Agnew's stores, West Nile St, and who sold Macrae whisky and cigarettes on Friday, 5 April 1985. I was assured that they would contact him. Six months later the police had failed to even phone Mr. MacKay. I phoned the Inverness Constabulary team who were dealing with the Macrae case and enquired as to why Mr MacKay had not been interviewed despite me giving his details in my statement. There reply was “We will phone you back". Police did phone me later that day and told me that they did not have Mr. Mackay's details.

They said that on 4 November 2011 a Detective Constable would attend at my home for Mr. MacKay's details. A Det Const did visit me to get Mr MacKay's address.

I also told Det. Sergeant GA, who took my statement that, after witnessing what I observed that day [Friday 5 April 1985], I was afraid not only for my own life but also for my wife's safety. The sergeant did not add this to my statement but added "They would not do that, would they?” I said, "There is the unwritten " Ways and means Act". He did not make a reply,

 

I attended at Macrae's office several years before his death with a court adjournment along with a colleague one afternoon. Willie appeared upset. He said, “The bastards have murdered Louis". Neither of us knew what he was talking about and then he added that Mountbatten was a friend that served with him in Indian navy. In my statement I said that Mr Macrae was friendly with Lord Louis Mountbatten (having served with him in India) and that I suspected that he may have secretly passed highly confidential info to Willie Macrae. This part along with several other paragraphs was deleted by police at FOI, Inverness HQ.

 

In my statement I said that, in the company of former policeman, Iain Fraser, I had visited the roadway where Macrae sustained the fatal injury to his head. We searched the said area most of the day with metal detectors with negative result. What surprised us both was the fact that skid marks as shown in police report were on a straight stretch of roadway and at a vantage point which gave a clear view to vehicular traffic going northwards/southwards. Was this point selected? In my statement I said that I strongly suspected that Macrae's car was sandwiched between the two cars that followed him from West Nile St. Glasgow. This paragraph was also deleted from my statement which I can assume was sent to the Crown Office for their consideration.

 

I spoke to Fergus Ewing in 2005 and he also came up against a 'brick wall' with Elish Angiolini remarking that there was no other new evidence.

 

MY 2011 STATEMENT TO POLICE

My statement was taken in my home on 22nd March 2011 by a Detective Sergeant GA (now Det Inspector). A Detective Constable took the statement of Iain Fraser, a former policeman, who was in my house at that time.

I didn't photocopy the statement I gave as the Det. Sgt. promised that a police Supt. would visit me at a later date to go over the 15/16 page statement with me to see if there was anything that I wished to add. This never happened of course and I didn't get the chance to photocopy my statement. This raised my suspicion that something was not right.

No Superintendent came and I did not receive a copy of my statement. Two years later I sent a recorded delivery letter to the Chief Supt. at Inverness requesting that he forwarded my letter to FOI for a copy of my original statement. He completely declined to acknowledge my letter. Thereafter I sent another recorded delivery letter to Ms. A, FOI, for a copy of my original statement. After about several months I phoned her and asked what the delay was! She said that it wasn't lost and that a Special Branch officer was attending from Aberdeen a week the following Monday and that he would know where my statement was. Then she added "It was them them that was dealing with the case from the start".

Some two months later I got a 'doctored' copy of my alleged statement. My signature was photocopied and appended to this false statement. Omitted deliberately from my statement were 7 or 8 very pertinent points.

Last year I made a detailed official complaint to the Chief Constable for Scotland. I could not believe it when this was sent to a senior CID officer at Inverness who was dealing with Macrae's case in the Spring of 2011.  Chief Inspector S sent me a letter saying that my statement had not been doctored.

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Willie Macrae Part 26: Donald Morrison Evidence (partial)

 

It has taken a few posts to get here. 

Now we’re going to see the evidence of Donald Morrison, a retired Glasgow policeman, who knew Macrae.  My sources are emails Donald sent to me and Mark MacNicol and so what I present may not be the entirety of his evidence but it is what he shared with me.  I present what Donald Morrison saw, heard and knew about Special Branch and Willie Macrae. 

In this post I present most, but not all, of his evidence which I have divided into three sections.  The omitted part has no bearing on Special Branch.

In Part 27, also published today, I present all the evidence he shared with no commentary other than a brief description of how I compiled his evidence.

 

Let me recap very briefly. In Part 24 I talked about why the alleged involvement of Special Branch is important to calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into Macrae’s death.  I described that I found the distinction between active and historical interest to be important in determining if an FAI should be held or not.  I found the case to be compelling for active interest and not to be made for historical interest.

In Part 25  I showed the authorities’ three-stage response when pushed on Special Branch* involvement.  There was

 

 

 

 

no denial that Special Branch had an historical interest in Macrae.

a denial that SB had an active interest in Macrae at the time of his death but examination shows the denial does not unambiguously rule out active interest.

a denial that the investigation was cut short. Here too the denial is not unambiguous.

 

In his evidence, Morrison claims that Special Branch had both an historical and active involvement with Macrae.  Despite my reservations about the relevance of historical evidence I include it for completeness, because you may think it relevant and because my view of its relevance may change. 

Beyond this, Morrison claims that there was Special Branch involvement in the statement he gave to police in 2011.

 

I’ll present the evidence under 3 headings,

 

 

 

ACTIVE Special Branch interest in Macrae

HISTORICAL Special Branch interest in Macrae

ON-GOING Special Branch interest in Morrison’s statement

and I let Donald’s words do most of the talking. You must decide if the Crown Office line is sustainable or not.

In his emails, Donald mentioned some police officers by name.  My understanding is that in reproducing Donald’s words with the names included I would not be defaming those people because I would not be implying any negativity or wrong-doing on their part.  I do not control the comments that readers might leave here and so, despite the risk being very small, I have removed their names and replaced them with letters.

 

ACTIVE SPECIAL BRANCH INTEREST

‘I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death.’
[Elish Angiolini 2005]

Let’s see how Angiloni’s statement stands against Donald Morrison’s evidence.

“FRIDAY 5TH APRIL 1985

Between 1100 AM / 12noon on 5th April, the day before Mr Macrae's death, Mr Roderick MacKay (Manager of Agnew's Store West Nile St.) served Mr Macrae 2 bottles of Islay Mist whisky & 40 Benson and Hedges cigarettes before he (Macrae) headed north.

I saw Willie coming out of the shop and then placing one of the bottles on the roof of the car while he opened the driver's door and I grabbed the bottle before it slipped to the roadway, The two who were taking ops would have seen this and that bottle would have my prints thereon and that would tie me to seeing him at the car before he set off.

Willie left West Nile St. between 11am and 12.30 at the latest. I know it was no later than 12.30 because at 12.30 I would have been in the police office for lunch. I cannot say he left Glasgow though. What he told me in West Nile St. was that he was heading up north right away to get settled in.

His last words to me were "I think I've got them this time", then he repeated " Yes I've got them this time” as he winked. Again he said for the third time, “I've got them this time" as he patted his bulging brief case. “I have to go through all this during the weekend up in Kintail.“

The body language of the two who were taking surveillance suggested to me that they were very annoyed at me speaking to Macrae as he sat in the car. As a matter of fact I looked over my shoulder two or three times and saw the man in the blue suit with an open hand gesture as if to say "what the hell is this cop speaking to Macrae?”. That was the feeling I got. At that point it crossed my mind to tell Macrae that he was being watched. Now I wish I had.

I stopped traffic to allow him to do a 'U' turn as he headed northwards in West Nile St. I unintentionally caught them (the surveillance two) on the hop. This resulted in them running northwards across Sauchiehall St and along West Nile St pushing pedestrians to the side to allow them to rendezvous with the two waiting cars which were either parked in West Nile St or in Renfrew Lane (which does not exist any more). Both were double-manned and went through red traffic signals burning rubber to tail him. I was so suspicious of the whole exercise that I decided to see for myself what was happening. The second car having gone through the lights and causing pedestrians who were crossing to scatter seemed to apologise to the pedestrians who were shouting at them by extending his right arm out the driver's window - a common practice used by police in a hurry. The manner in which this surveillance was carried out so meticulously made me very, very suspicious.

Having witnessed what happened in West Nile St, Glasgow that forenoon, I knew right away that it was very well planned and was also aware within myself that I would not see Mr William Macrae alive again. I pulled my radio out of my pocket to inform HQ about what I had seen but decided from doing so because I had not taken the Reg. No. of Willie Macrae's car.

Anyway, I tried to convince myself that Mr Macrae had been under surveillance for some time and that his life was not placed in danger. I went along to Stewart St. police office and told colleagues what had happened. The advice that I was given was 'For your own good keep your nose out of it.' I did fear for my own life and that of my wife.

I was also aware that it was a waste of time reporting the matter to police as they were already aware of Macrae being under surveillance along with Special Branch.”

What do you think so far?  Are you leaning towards Donald or the Crown Office?

 

There’s more.

SHORT TIME BFORE MACRAE’S DEATH

“About 4/5 weeks before Willie's death, a former policeman (Mr Iain Fraser) who had left because of poor wages set up his own private detective agency and had an office in the same office block as Willie Macrae's in Bath St. He received a phone call enquiring if he knew Mr Macrae.  He said that he did know him. This phone was believed to be from Newcastle. Iain was told that Macrae would be attending an SNP conference in Edinburgh on a particular date and he was asked to take surveillance on Willie and the other two people who would be with him. He was than asked to submit his report asap to a Box Number in Newcastle. A few days later he received a cheque for I about £130 for a days work along with another retired police sergeant from Greenock.   A week or so later Iain got a job abroad and remained there for several weeks. He was not aware that Willie had met his death until he came back to Glasgow.”

and

“A short time [see the two paragraphs below] before Macrae's death, Constable DP (now deceased) got a call via his personal radio to attend the premises of William McRae after a suspicious break-in where no cash was ever stolen but filing cabinets only forced open. A short time later another message came over the radio saying that PC DP had attended the premises of William McRae and had found 'highly confidential files that were so important they could bring the government down' and requesting that Det. Const. WW attends. Det. Const. WW attended and contacted Supt. BH and Special Branch who arranged for all files from Willie's office to be secretly taken to Stewart St. police office to be photocopied. Supt. BH authorised documents being taken to Stewart St. Willie was not present and had not been made aware of this. Willie unexpectedly appeared at his office and was very annoyed at police removing his documents. I was present when Supt. BH told him the lie that his filings were removed in the interest of safety. Willie was raging because of this. There was so much to be photocopied that Supt. BH suggested getting another loan of a photocopying machine from M&S Sauchiehall St.

When taking my statement in 2011, Det. Sergeant GA asked me how long is a 'short time'? Is it 6-12 months? In reply I said I didn't exactly know how long it was but appeared to be short time. He put 6-12 months in my statement.  I could not say for sure that it was a few weeks or even a few months. That is why I wrote to FOI Pitt St. enquiring as to when pc DP was awarded the Chief Constable's Commendation.

The background to this is that DP was awarded a Chief Constable's Commendation for finding the documents that were considered so dangerous that they could bring the government down. To give me an idea of when PC DP found this info I sent an FOI by Recorded Delivery to Insp. C, 173 Pitt St Glasgow G24 JS on 16th Feb. 2015 requesting that I was given the date PC DP (who was my neighbour on occasions in police) was commended by the Chief Constable. They have not acknowledged my letter or sent me a reply!”

Well, what now?

Do you think Donald Morrison’s evidence is credible? 

There is a lot of it.  It’s detailed.  It gives the specifics of Special Branch involvement in the weeks and months leading up to Macrae’s death.

Do you think Special Branch has an active interest in Macrae at the time of his death?

Do you think Angiolini’s statement, ‘‘I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death.’, can stand in the face of this?

 

Are her words, ‘from the papers  becoming more important? 

Are these three words all that prevent her words from crumbling?

 

But there is more.  Morrison claims that there is historical evidence of Special Branch interest in Macrae.

 

HISTORICAL SPECIAL BRANCH INTEREST

The Crown office has made no comment about historical Special Branch interest in Willie Macrae.  Read into that what you will.  I take their silence as an admission that Special Branch were involved.  Certainly that is where Donald Morrison’s evidence would lead you.

“Willie's executive office in Bath St was broken into 5 times as far as I recall. There was never any cash stolen but his filing cabinets were always burst open. As a rule Tommy Sheridan's small office 5 up at 12/14 Renfield St. was broken into the same night as Macrae's. It was forming a pattern! Macrae's office was 1 up to the right hand side while a Celtic millionaire director's office was to the left on the landing. He told me that he had been there for 28 years and that the security of his property had never been overcome until Macrae arrived. He blamed Willie's presence for the break-ins. I added this in my statement but again this has been deleted.

I wasn't surprised that senior officers whom I approached were not interested about the break-ins and asked me to give him 'flannel'. Willie himself knew that they were not real house break-ins and blamed Special Branch /M15.”

 

and

 

“I was asked to get a copy of keys to the Macrae/Murray/Spence office 1 up in Bath St. To the best of my knowledge this was a considerable time before 1985. Partner Len Murray and Macrae didn't see 'eye to eye' and Macrae left the office they had shared some 2yrs approx. before his demise. He had moved along to another office some 1 hundred yards along westwards in Bath St. I enquired of the senior officer if I could get a copy of the Chubb keys with a pencil. He replied " No, No, this can be done by pushing the keys into wet soap or plasticine.” I was quite friendly with the Commissionaire and admired the way he was turned out sometimes wearing his active Service War medals. I had too much respect for him and did not feel comfortable to ask him as the reply would be more likely negative. However I recall that I did visit the cleaning lady but she was very suspicious of police presence in the lawyers office. So I failed to get a copy of the keys.”

 

and

 

Also deleted from my statement was this paragraph. I was on uniform patrol one night when dog patrol officers pulled up near to Watt Bros, corner of Sauchiehall St/Hope St. I recall that the driver knew me and stopped to say hello. To the best of my knowledge this would be either pc. Kenny or pc Alasdair (I can't remember their surnames). While speaking to the driver both of us heard a message coming over the AS radio in the van. [Note: This radio was for traffic vehicles, while beat police used a local personal radio system.] The message was to the effect that Special Branch were following Willie Macrae's car (he was a suspected drink driver). They requested that a marked police car attended to stop his vehicle as they could not do so. Mr Macrae, I believe, had a drink driving charge pending. I do not know whether he was stopped or not that night. Once anybody is taken into custody all their personal belongings are removed from them. There is no doubt that should SB wish to do so - they could gain access to examine that property including keys etc. I cannot put a time on this but I feel it may have been probably a year or even more.”

 

and

 

“Between 1975 to 1977, I'm not sure when, I recall being on duty with a colleague in the 5 Ways area Buchanan St/ Bath St, when we received a call asking for our position. We confirmed our position and, shortly after that, police sergeant Y told us that Special Branch and M15 were taking obs. on the premises of Willie Macrae and warned us not to go near the premises that night. Also he added that no marked police vehicles were permitted in the area of Bath St that night. None of these witnesses were contacted by police until I gave them the names 27yrs later.”

 

and

 

One day, a long time before his death and before he left his office in Bath St, I attended at Willie's former office with a fax message from the Procurator fiscal regarding a sudden court adjournment. The heavy maroon curtains were drawn on a warm summer's day. I pulled the curtains over and Willie said, “No! No”. and indicated that he was under surveillance from property across the road (1 up).

 

and

 

Another time, again a long time before his death and before he left his office in Bath St, Macrae reported to Stewart St. police office that a strange blue Triumph car was circling his block. I attended along with a colleague and obtained the registration number and a complaint from him. The Reg No isn't known now. Like most policemen at Stewart St. neither us was really surprised to learn this as we both knew that Willie was under surveillance for some unknown reason: we were never told why! I attended at Stewart St police and asked the controller to do a PNC (Police National Computer check) and the result came back as 'No Trace' as we expected. We went back to see Willie with our findings and told him that that Reg. No. did not exist. He looked at us both for what seemed like a minute and he said " M15 and Special Branch motors are not registered in Swansea”. Supt. BH decided to send two plain clothes officers to visit Macrae about his complaint. Immediately, it was suddenly cancelled after Supt. BH received a telephone message from the Chief Constable's office to say that Mr. Macrae had sent a letter of complaint to Pitt St HQ. It was then decided to send a police Insp. and Sergeant instead of plain clothes to deal with the matter.

 

Is this evidence credible?

I can understand the silence of the Crown Office.

 

But there’s still more!

 

 

ON-GOING SPECIAL BRANCH INVOLVEMENT

Morrison’s claims that Special Branch were involved with the statement he made to police in March 2011.

“My statement was taken in my home on 22nd March 2011 by a Detective Sergeant GA (now Det Inspector). A Detective Constable took the statement of Iain Fraser, a former policeman, who was in my house at that time.

I didn't photocopy the statement I gave as the Det. Sgt. promised that a police Supt. would visit me at a later date to go over the 15/16 page statement with me to see if there was anything that I wished to add. This never happened of course and I didn't get the chance to photocopy my statement. This raised my suspicion that something was not right.

No Superintendent came and I did not receive a copy of my statement. Two years later I sent a recorded delivery letter to the Chief Supt. at Inverness requesting that he forwarded my letter to FOI for a copy of my original statement. He completely declined to acknowledge my letter. Thereafter I sent another recorded delivery letter to Ms. A, FOI, for a copy of my original statement. After about several months I phoned her and asked what the delay was! She said that it wasn't lost and that a Special Branch officer was attending from Aberdeen a week the following Monday and that he would know where my statement was. Then she added "It was them them that was dealing with the case from the start".

Some two months later I got a 'doctored' copy of my alleged statement. My signature was photocopied and appended to this false statement. Omitted deliberately from my statement were 7 or 8 very pertinent points.

Last year I made a detailed official complaint to the Chief Constable for Scotland. I could not believe it when this was sent to a senior CID officer at Inverness who was dealing with Macrae's case in the Spring of 2011.  Chief Inspector S sent me a letter saying that my statement had not been doctored.”

 

What do you think?

Is Donald Morrison’s evidence credible?

This is the crux.

Credible?

Incredible?

If you think it incredible then, for you, the Crown Office view prevails.

If you think it credible, as I do, then only an inquiry can bring truth to the public and have justice seen to be done for Willie and his family.

 

I have deliberately kept my distance to give you space to form your views.  In Part 28 you’ll hear from me!

 

__________________________________________________________________ * I use ‘Special Branch’ to cover two different  situations: firstly, for Special Branch only and secondly for any state operations beyond what we commonly regards as the police.  This would include MI5, MI6 or any other state grouping.  You must bear in mind that when the police and Crown Office refer to Special Branch they may be limiting themselves to the official Special Branch only and, therefore excluding other groupings but then again they may use it the wider sense.  Unless I say otherwise I use Special Branch with its wider definition.

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Willie Macrae Part 25: Special Branch – Official View

 

Introduction

In Part 24 I said that I believed any active involvement of the Special Branch* (* see end of post) with Willie Macrae was sufficient for an FAI to be held. 

In Part 26 we’ll look at evidence from a retired policeman, Donald Morrison, who claims Special Branch were involved up to, at least, the day Macrae left Glasgow, 5 April 1985.

Here you get to see what the police and Crown Office have said about Special Branch and Macrae.

Before we go there, I invite you to read Part 23, if you haven’t yet done so.  Last Sunday, 29 March, the Sunday Herald published an article highlighting the new campaign for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held into Macrae’s death.  The article was light on information until the last sentence in which the Crown Office appears to have set its face against holding an FAI …. ever. 

The Crown Office is quoted as saying,

Crown Counsel are satisfied with the extensive investigations into the death of William Macrae

and

Crown Counsel ….. have instructed that an FAI will not be held into the circumstances of Mr McRae’s death

Effectively, the Crown Office is saying that there can be no new evidence  ….  ever ….. which could have them question the investigation and open an inquiry.

Now I try not to take official statements at face value, as you will see below, because these messages are rarely written unambiguously.  I ask that you bear in mind the tone of the Crown Office statement as you read this article and those which follow. 

 

Now let’s get back to the subject matter.

I know of only two instances where there is official comment on the allegation that Macrae was of interest to, and was under surveillance by, Special Branch.  You will see that both sources deny ‘active interest’ in Macrae.  We’ll look at their denials in some detail!

The more important was in 2005 when Fergus Ewing MSP wrote to the Lord Advocate asking directly about the alleged surveillance of Macrae.  Until today, all that was available were a few newspaper reports but now I have copies of both Fergus’ letter and the Crown Office reply and I quote directly from them.

 

But, first, let’s go back to 1993.  Northern Constabulary replied to a  request from West Mercia police for information following allegations in Gary Murray’s book, ‘Enemies of the State’.

 

1993 West Mercia Police

Northern Constabulary’s letter can be seen here [page 1, page 2].  It is clear that West Mercia police have asked Northern Constabulary for advice on handling questions about Macrae’s death and, of interest to us, is that portion which relates to Special Branch. 

 

We look at two short extracts.

PART 20  Macrae D  E1M

On first reading, the meaning is obvious: Special Branch or the Security Services had no interest in Macrae.

BUT when we start to doubt – and across the UK we have plenty reason to doubt official statements - we look deeper.  Let’s do that.

The obvious point to start with is that the denial refers to ‘an active interest’ only.  This leaves wide open the possibility - some would say likelihood - that there had been an historical interest in Macrae. 

This alone is worthy of follow-up.  What?  When?  Why?  Why did it stop? When did it stop?

 

The clearest possible statement which could have been made was,

Neither SB or Security Service had any interest at any time in Mr Macrae.

but it wasn’t. 

 

It could have said,

Neither SB or Security Service had an active interest in Mr Macrae.

but it doesn’t.

 

Both these hypothetical statements are definite.  In them there is no doubt but what is actually written is subjective,

There is no justification for suggesting SB or Security Service had an active interest in Mr Macrae, ….[Emphasis is mine]

What is written becomes weaker and less definite with the inclusion of the subjective words.  Is this a denial of ‘active interest’ or rather a denial of ‘justification for suggesting’?  They are very different denials.

 

The last phrase of the police sentence makes the statement much less definite still.

There is no justification for suggesting SB or Security Service had an active interest in Mr Macrae, certainly not with the knowledge or involvement/collusion of Northern Constabulary.[Emphasis is mine]

The writer specifically distances Northern Constabulary from ‘knowledge or involvement/collusion’ but, in so doing, he weakens the statement enormously. He makes it about Northern Constabulary only and leaves entirely open, and entirely uncommented upon, that other police forces and organisations might have had ‘an active interest’ and had ‘knowledge or involvement/collusion’.

 

That I have taken an apparently straightforward statement, dissected it to find a largely non-denial doesn’t mean that my dissection has revealed the truth. 

What I have revealed, though, are two alternative meanings:

  active Special Branch involvement is not ruled out despite an apparent straightforward denial.

there was historical involvement

 

 

The second extract addresses a different point: that the investigation was stopped  short by the Home Office,

PART 20  Macrae E  E1M

A very strong denial!

Now I have no idea if this statement is true or false: I have no reason to doubt its truthfulness.  But what was key to the ending of the investigation, as it should be, was DCI MacDonald’s satisfaction ‘that no crime had been committed’.

Before I continue I must say that I know nothing of DCI MacDonald.  I pick apart the words of the author and not MacDonald’s reputation.

Where was the bar of satisfaction?  Was it low, as many allege, in which case the investigation might have been halted early?

Was it high and no stone left unturned?

 

The Procurator Fiscal and others are dependent on the information which is presented to them.  Hypothetically, an incomplete investigation, which has ignored strands of evidence, might still tick all the boxes necessary for the authorities to accept the conclusion.

I don’t know if the fullest possible investigation was carried out or not but, as with many statements, the shown extract rules out neither possibility.

 

Eventually, we move onto the much more important exchange between Fergus Ewing and the Crown Office.

 

Fergus Ewing

In April 2005, Fergus Ewing became aware of the evidence of a retired policeman, Donald Morrison, who claimed that Macrae had been and, on the day he left Glasgow, was under surveillance.

An article in the Scotsman said,

Last week, a retired Glasgow policeman, Donald Morrison, said that he had seen evidence that MacRae had been under surveillance.

Ewing said: "I want the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, to respond to the allegations which have been made by the retired police officer that Mr MacRae was under surveillance. I want him to confirm or deny this."

and

He [Fergus Ewing] added: "Here’s a policeman who has made quite specific allegations that Willie MacRae was being tailed. It is one of the most curious deaths that have occurred in the second half of the 20th century in Scotland."

At the time of publication the Crown Office had not received Fergus’ letter.

 

In July 2006, again in the Scotsman, is the first reference I have found of a Crown Office reply.  Towards the end of the article we find these words,

Repeated requests for an official inquiry into Mr MacRae's death have been turned down. Last year, Elish Angiolini, the Solicitor General, refused a request from Fergus Ewing, the SNP MSP, to discuss allegations that Mr MacRae was under surveillance in the weeks leading up to his death. She also said a further investigation was not justified.

and

The Crown Office declined to comment yesterday.

 

According to these articles, Fergus Ewing was very specific: he wanted the Lord Advocate to respond to the actual allegations made by Donald Morrison.  The Crown Office did not.

There would be little more to be written were these extracts all we had to go on and, until a few days, I had no more. Fortunately, Fergus Ewing forwarded copies of correspondence to me and now we can look at what each party said. 

Unfortunately, I haven’t got explicit permission to publish the two letters and so I will show some extracts only.

Firstly let’s look at what Fergus wrote.  His main focus was on the evidence of Donald Morrison but he touched on other aspects of the case.  I ignore those other aspects.

Fergus wrote,

PART 20 FE to LA E1

and

PART 20 FE to LA E2

Ewing puts two specific allegations to the Lord Advocate,

that he [Morrison] was advised to stay away from the offices of Len Murray and Willie MacRae because the Intelligence Service were watching them.

that on the day Mr. MacRae left from Glasgow …. he [Morrison] spoke to Mr. MacRae in the city centre in Glasgow and saw that when Mr. Macrae drove off he [MacRae] was pursued by two vehicles.

 

Before we move on I must say that the first allegation re the offices of Macrae and Len Murray is not from the time of Willie’s death.  My reading from communication with Donald Morrison is that this happened in the mid-1970’s.  This is given credence by Len Murray stating in an article in the Herald from 1995 that his partnership with Willie ended in 1981. This is historical interest and in Part 23 I gave my view that historical interest in Macrae is insufficient for an FAI unless there were plans or thoughts at the time to do harm to Macrae. In my next post we’ll have a detailed look at Morrison’s evidence.

But still the second allegation would stand because it deals with active interest.

 

Let’s look in detail how the Solicitor General, Elish Angiolini, responded on behalf of the Lord Advocate.

From the 940 words (or so) in her reply, Angiolini used only 58 to deal with the central theme of Ewing’s letter,

You mention the evidence of Donald Morrison and the suggestion that Mr Macrae was under surveillance.  This is not a new allegation or information and was explored when it was raised initially as an issue.  I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death.

On first reading, this has the hallmarks of a strong denial but very easily one can see weaknesses.

Firstly, that Macrae was under surveillance is correctly stated as ‘not a new allegation or information’ but the sentence continues ‘and was explored when it was raised initially as an issue.’  This actually says that the allegation was explored when raised initially but this does not mean that Morrison’s specific new allegation was explored.  Therefore, Angiolini’s sentence does NOT rule out Morrison’s allegation nor does it actually state that Morrison’s allegations were ever investigated.

 

Her third sentence, either by coincidence or design, is a masterful example of saying one truth but conveying a very different truth.  Some might call it ‘spin’, others ‘deceitful’. 

Let’s look again at the words,

I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death. [Emphasis is mine]

See how important are those three words – from the papers.  Angiolini is NOT saying that Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death but is making the much more limited statement, [in my words] ’having read the papers there is nothing in those papers which shows that Macrae was under surveillance or enquiry.

No more than this. 

Plausible deniability.  The truth would have been told because I’m sure there is nothing in those papers …. but elsewhere the evidence could be stacked up.

 

from the papers’ ????

 

Of course, Elish Angiolini might have written the whole truth and, if she hasn’t, that doesn’t mean that she deliberately did so. It’s possible too that Angiolini, in a desire for clarity, was very particular in her choice of words …. and then I have used this clarity against her.

I can’t know and, in a mystery such as this, I cannot assume that official statements always contain the whole truth just as, throughout this long series, I can’t know and can’t assume that witnesses have written the whole truth.  With them too any error need not be deliberate.

 

What has this analysis shown?

We have two denials:

  [re Donald Morrison’s evidence] This is not a new allegation or information and was explored when it was raised initially as an issue. 

from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death.

 

neither of which unambiguously rules out that to which it is addressed,

 

Morrison’s evidence that Macrae was under surveillance when he left Glasgow may not have been investigated.

Macrae might still have been under surveillance at the time of his death.

 

Beyond the allegations which were brought to the Lord Advocate, three times Ewing asked for a meeting to discuss the allegations made by Donald Morrison.

PART 20 FE to LA M1_3 Mod

Only on the third time of asking did Ewing open out his request to cover other allegations. 

Already we know from the Scotsman that no meeting was offered.  How was Ewing rebuffed in Angiolini’s letter?

You have asked if the Lord Advocate will meet you to discuss the allegations you mention in your letter.  I am satisfied that a thorough investigation was carried out into the death of Willie MacRae, and that on the basis of the material available further investigation and criminal proceedings are not justified.  I do not therefore think that anything can be achieved by a meeting.

Here in the second sentence we have argument by assertion. Angiolini asserts that a ‘thorough investigation was carried out …’  This may be true but it carries weight not because of the words but only because of Angiolini’s position to deny further investigation.

The second part of that sentence has plausible deniability: ‘on the basis of the material available further investigation and criminal proceedings are not justified.’   There might be masses of evidence which would justify more investigations but it isn’t in the material available to the Crown Office or, as a cynic might say, it is available but was deliberately withheld from the official file.

Once again, I hypothesise.  It’s worth repeating what I wrote a few lines above about Angiolini’s response to the allegations.  They apply here too.

Of course, Elish Angiolini might have written the whole truth and, if she hasn’t that doesn’t mean that she deliberately did so. It’s possible too that Angiolini in a desire for clarity was very particular in her choice of words …. and then I have used this clarity against her.

I can’t know and, in a mystery such as this, I cannot assume that official statements always contain the whole truth just as, in subsequent posts, I can’t know and can’t assume that witnesses have written the whole truth.  With them too any error need not be deliberate.

 

Has Angiolini given a straightforward statement of fact on which we can rely without further questioning?

 

Or is the official line

Nothing to see here.  Move on!

 

 

Tomorrow, you’ll have the opportunity to see Donald Morrison’s evidence in some detail and you can judge where the truth lies.

 

[* I use ‘Special Branch’ to cover two different  situations: firstly, for Special Branch only and secondly for any state operations beyond what we commonly regards as the police.  This would include MI5, MI6 or any other state grouping.  You must bear in mind that when the police and Crown Office refer to Special Branch they may be limiting themselves to the official Special Branch only and, therefore excluding other groupings but then again they may use it the wider sense.  Unless I say otherwise I use Special Branch with its wider definition]

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

 

 

 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Willie Macrae Part 24: Importance of Special Branch

 

Introduction

For almost 30 years there have been rumours that Special Branch* were involved with Willie Macrae: ‘involved’ not in the sense of working with but working against Macrae.  According to rumour he was tailed, burgled, driven off the road and shot by state operatives.  

[* I use ‘Special Branch’ to cover two different  situations: firstly, for Special Branch only and secondly for any state operations beyond what we commonly regards as the police.  This would include MI5, MI6 or any other state grouping.  You must bear in mind that when the police and Crown Office refer to Special Branch they may be limiting themselves to the official Special Branch only and, therefore excluding other groupings but then again they may use it the wider sense.  Unless I say otherwise I use Special Branch with its wider definition]

 

In subsequent posts, I’ll discuss the authorities’ views on the role of Special Branch and look at evidence for such a role but here I focus entirely on why the alleged involvement of Special Branch is so important to calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into Macrae’s death. 

By focusing so strongly on Special Branch (4 posts at least) it is possible that some may think that this is the only reason for an inquiry.  It isn’t.  The case for an inquiry doesn’t stand or fall on the basis of Special Branch.

You may wonder also why I am not presenting the evidence for Special Branch involvement now and then moving on to what that means for the calls for an inquiry.  I felt that I wanted to establish some principles first so that you could measure the evidence, when presented, against these principles.  I worried that the principles would be lost had I put the evidence first.

 

I’m going to look at 3 different scenarios, where there is

- certainty of active Special Branch involvement

- evidence of SB involvement

- historical involvement but NOT in the period leading up to Macrae’s death

 

Certainty of Active Involvement

In Part 19, I made the best case I could for suicide given the released documents.  I believe this is, in essence, what the Crown Office thought.  

I wrote,

‘He was hugely talented.

He was charismatic.

He was troubled …. terribly.

He suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts so much so that his younger brother, a GP, had taken his unlicenced revolver from him.  Unfortunately, this was returned to him when his brother considered that his mental state had improved.

He drank much more than was good for him.  He had been convicted twice for drink driving and had another offence pending.

He faced prison.

He feared prison.’

and then he crashed whilst under the influence of drink and then ……

 

This is a simple, straightforward but tragic case.  There is no place in this story for Special Branch.

 

Now I want to show how the picture changes if Special Branch were actually involved with Macrae.  Then we’ll consider the position if there is evidence of possible involvement but with no certainty.

 

Let’s consider some hypothetical situations.  Imagine my quote above but changed slightly.

1.

.
.
.
.
.
.
He faced prison.
 

He feared prison.

and then he crashed having been forced off the road by Special Branch and then ……

Here with direct Special Branch involvement in the crash there would be an inquiry!  This example has nothing to say about who shot Macrae but that does not alter the (hypothetical) fact that Special Branch deliberately drove Macrae off the road.  This would be a criminal act and legal action would follow inevitably.  Surely?

 

And now the second hypothetical situation,

2.

.
.
.
.
.
.
He faced prison.
 

He feared prison.

and then he crashed whilst being followed by Special Branch and then ……

Here too the role of Special Branch is so important that an inquiry is needed!  They have been following Macrae who has then crashed.  Again this hypothesis makes no suggestion of who fired the killing shot but the close and direct involvement of Special Branch in Macrae’s last journey makes an inquiry vital.  Their close involvement makes them witnesses even if they played no direct role in the crash and death.  Again this situation could never be described as simple and straightforward.  The actual role of Special Branch and the possible effect of their activities on Macrae’s thinking and mental health could not be ignored justifiably.  Again an inquiry would be vital.

 

and the third hypothesis,

 

3.

.
.
.
.
.
.
He faced prison.
 

He feared prison.

He knew Special Branch had him under surveillance and he feared the outcome.

and then he crashed whilst under the influence of drink and then ……

With this hypothesis there is no direct involvement of Special Branch in his death but I contend that here too an inquiry is needed to determine their specific role and if Macrae’s mental state was adversely affected by Special Branch’s involvement.  The basic question to be answered about Special Branch by an inquiry would be, ‘Was SB involvement a contributory factor in his suicide?’.

 

In these examples we do not have the simple, straightforward but tragic case the Crown Office states it to be.  Instead, Special Branch is inserted to differing degrees and an inquiry would be needed to determine the extent of Special Branch’s role and the effect on Macrae.

In these examples, I have made Special Branch involvement definite.  There is no doubt and I am clear that all three would require an inquiry.

 

Now I want to consider these hypotheses again but this time where Special Branch involvement is NOT definite but where there is evidence without certainty.

 

Evidence of Active Involvement

Here I make no distinction in terms of whether or not an FAI is needed.

Evidence without certainty must still lead to an enquiry.

 

Why?

It wouldn’t be enough for the authorities to assert the evidence is wrong.

It wouldn’t be enough for me to assert the evidence is correct. 

Evidence must be investigated and tested.

 

With certainty, an inquiry determines the extent of involvement and the likely effect on Macrae.

With evidence but no certainty, the evidence would be tested and an inquiry would determine if there was involvement and, if so, its extent and the likely effect on Macrae. 

 

I’ve left the tricky scenario to the end.

 

Historical Involvement

The situation I consider here is where there is nothing to show that there was active involvement but there is certainty of, or evidence of, historical involvement.

How relevant would it be were it known that SB were taking an interest in Macrae 1 year, 5 years, 10 years before his death?   Should any or all of these drive an FAI?

Historical involvement, evidence for or certainty of, is not enough to push for an inquiry UNLESS, at the time, there were plans or thoughts of doing harm to Macrae.

I have struggled with this, struggled to put all I know of the case to one side, and I’m not sure my conclusion is firm.  I could persuade myself to change.

I ask myself to imagine another hypothetical tragic death; an apparent suicide and then evidence is unveiled that Special Branch had taken an interest in this person some years before. 

Would this warrant an inquiry?

No!

Unless the circumstances of the death were suspicious or giving rise to public concern.

And this brings me back to Macrae.  Historical evidence of Special Branch investigating Macrae is not sufficient for an inquiry.  It is the suspicious circumstances of his death which demand an inquiry.

 

Let me summarise my position.

 

Summary

If there is credible evidence that Special Branch was ‘involved’ with Macrae in the months before his death then an inquiry must be held. 

We must know what happened.

We must know if Willie’s death was ‘simple, straightforward but tragic’ or complex and tragic.

 

If the involvement was historical then this does not require an inquiry unless there were plans or thoughts at the time of doing harm to Macrae.

 

It is possible that justice has already been done in this case but, most certainly, it has not been seen to be done and that is unacceptable.

Justice must be seen to be done.

 

Only with a formal legal inquiry can we see justice done but we must be aware, cynically, that such an inquiry might not bring justice into public sight.

We must also be aware that within many campaigners is a belief that Macrae was murdered.  They must recognise that a suicide ‘verdict’ after an inquiry does not mean that justice was not done.

 

In the posts which follow you can judge the evidence and come to your conclusion about the need for an FAI (or not).

 

 

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Willie Macrae Part 23: Crown Office Stance Hardens

 

Let them turn their face from the common people and for ever be shamed

 

This is an unplanned post written at short notice.

I have just come across an article in today’s Sunday Herald which highlights the new campaign for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into Willie’s death.

The article gives background to Macrae’s last hours, the new campaign, Fergus (Willie’s younger brother) Macrae’s belief that there is nothing to learn about Willies death – it was suicide.  Note: I posted earlier today about why I can’t agree with Fergus.

The key passage, however, is the very last sentence,

Part 23 Herald E1

Read it again! 

The Crown Office is quoted as saying,

Crown Counsel are satisfied with the extensive investigations into the death of William Macrae

and

Crown Counsel ….. have instructed that an FAI will not be held into the circumstances of Mr McRae’s death


Effectively, the Crown Office is saying that there can be no new evidence  ….  ever ….. which could have them question the investigation and open an inquiry.

 

That’s really interesting because on Wednesday I will publish detailed evidence from Donald Morrison, a retired Glasgow policeman, who not only

  knew Macrae

knew of Special Branch surveillance of Macrae

knew of Special Branch removing documents from Macrae’s office

but saw Macrae being observed and followed at speed on his last ever Friday as he prepared to leave Glasgow for his holiday home near Dornie.

 

I will present detailed evidence for all of this.

 

But yet the Crown Office is not for turning.

 

The Crown Office may deny justice in the Scottish courts.

 

But they cannot deny justice in the court of public opinion.

 

Let them turn their face from the common people and for ever be shamed

 

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

Willie Macrae Part 22: I Can’t Agree with Fergus

 

I am in a very difficult position!

 

In 1985, Willie’s family, including brother Fergus, said that they did not want a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) to be held into his death. 

No FAI was held, the police and Crown Office, having already come to the view that Willie had committed suicide.

P 21 LA page 1[Source]

 

Over the years, Fergus’ view hasn’t changed and now, just three weeks ago,  he has re-stated his position in the Express.

P 21 Express 20150308 A

 

Paula Murray’s article states,

Dr Fergus McRae said demands for a public or fatal accidents inquiry were “futile” and insisted he did not for a moment believe there to be any suspicious circumstances.

 

Fergus Macrae is quoted as saying,

I was completely confused at the time but I knew some background that a lot of people didn’t. It is not something I was willing to go into at the time and it is not something I am willing to go into now either.

and

I don’t understand why this is still going on. I find it very difficult to understand, I don’t know what their [campaigners’] motives are. All the people I know have had this fully explained to them but for some reason this goes on and on and on.

There is no question in my mind of what happened. There was no murder or anything like that. I am absolutely positive about that. He did not discover anything that would have put his life at risk.

There is no reason not to accept the official turn of events.

 

I understand Mr Macrae was approached for comments only a few days after a group ‘announced it was planning to petition the Lord Advocate to launch a fresh investigation into the case.

 

Yes, I am in a very difficult position because I believe that there should be an inquiry!

And I still do despite knowing Mr Macrae’s current views.

 

Many will think I am wrong and ask,

What gives you the right to go against the expressed wishes of Willie’s brother?

What gives you the right to drag details of Willie’s death and life back into the public domain?

Why can’t you leave Willie and his family alone at last after 30 years?

 

Let me try to explain but first I must point out that I give my views only.  Although I have been involved with the campaign group to which Paula Murray alludes and I share their aims neither do I speak for them nor do I know their views on this matter.

 

I can’t know the pain that Fergus and the Macrae family suffered with Willie’s sudden, premature and violent death: it is beyond my imagining.  This would be terrible even if they had found peace as the years passed but they have not been afforded this.  Countless times over the last 30 years, individuals – and I am one – and groups have returned over and over again raking over the details bringing Willie’s death and life back into the public realm and, I imagine, re-opening the sore.

It is no wonder Fergus wants an end to this.

He is as convinced as it’s possible to be that Willie took his own life.  He ‘knows’ an inquiry will bring nothing new but will bring back old pain.  Please stop!

 

I know this and yet I will not stop. 

I continue not because I know what happened and want to have it proved.

I continue because I do not know what happened.

I continue because there are questions and doubts about the suicide label.

Justice might have been done with the police and Crown Office investigations but justice hasn’t been seen to be done. 

There will only be closure when the public see that justice has been done.

Justice is for all of us. 

 

That is why within the ‘Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976’ legislation, which underpins the Scottish system of Fatal accident Inquiries, there is a role for the public.  The relevant paragraph is

1 (1) b

it appears to the Lord Advocate to be expedient in the public interest in the case of a death to which this paragraph applies that an inquiry under this Act should be held into the circumstances of the death on the ground that it was sudden, suspicious or unexplained, or has occurred in circumstances such as to give rise to serious public concern, [emphasis is mine]

It is to this paragraph that I’ll be looking as I lay out the story of Willie’s death as it is told beyond the documents released by the authorities. [Parts 1 to 20] cover this portion of the mystery].

 

And so I can’t agree with Fergus Macrae.

I can’t stop.

But I hope my writing will respect Willie, his life and his family.

 

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Willie Macrae Part 21: My Next Steps

 

In Parts 1 to 20 I wrote extensively about the background to the mystery and about the evidence released by the police and the Crown Office.

In this phase I will look critically at information from other (non-state) sources.  These sources are many and varied and their information ranges massively in credibility. 

Let me be clear here that I have seen no information which shows murder as the likely cause of Willie’s death but there is information which raises questions of sufficient importance to merit an FAI. 

Some may find it difficult to understand how I can be neutral about the cause of death but certain about the need for an FAI.  Inquiries are held where knowledge is required, where there is doubt, where there are unanswered questions.  The mystery over Willie’s death fits perfectly into this description.

Let me also be clear that I do not want an FAI so that Willie’s death can be shown to be murder.  I want an inquiry so that justice can be seen to have been done even if Willie’s death was suicide.

In the posts to come I will present information which I believe asks important questions.  As always I will be as even-handed as I can.

 

I have six posts ready to go which will appear over the next five days.

In Part 22, I explain how, despite the pleading of Willie’s brother (Fergus), I am continuing my study and my call for a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

Thereafter are four posts in which I look at the possible involvement of the Special Branch.

 

Part 23: I look at the principles by which I judge if possible Special Branch involvement merits an inquiry.

 

Part 24: I show how the Crown Office has responded to previous calls for an FAI.

 

Part 25: I lay out the detailed evidence of Donald Morrison, a retired Glasgow policeman, who knew Macrae and who claims that Special Branch were actively involved with Willie on the day he left Glasgow and in the weeks leading up to his death.  I think you will be amazed, shocked and possibly angry!

 

Part 26: I lay out Donald’s evidence again with no comment from me other than explaining how I came to produce this document.  You may find this an easier way of grasping the extent of his evidence.

 

Part 27:  I critically assess the impact of Donald’s evidence on the previous position of the Crown Office.

 

After this, I’m not sure on which area I will alight although the position of the revolver relative to Willie’s car must have a good chance of appearing.

 

See you tomorrow!

 

__________________________________________________________________

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015

__________________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT

Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.

Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.

If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.