Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Willie Macrae Part 32: Important FOI Victory!

 

UPDATE 30 June: In the 2nd last sentence of this post I stated incorrectly that the Crown Office had to reply to my FOI Internal Review request by 6 August.  I counted 20 days from submission rather than 20 working days.  The due date is actually 14 August.  Apologies!

At last, some more information is to be revealed .… but not much and not quite yet!

Paul Delamore, one of the co-authors of the recent Scotland on Sunday article on Willie’s death, has won his appeal to the Information Commissioner over Police Scotland’s refusal to release information requested under our Freedom of Information Act, FOISA (2002).

What did Delamore ask?

Only six questions!

  1 At what time on the 6th April 1985 were the police notified of a gunshot wound?

2

And at what time on the 6th April 1985 were the family of Mr Macrae notified about his situation?

3

I see that there is a date (7th April 1985) for the photos of the gun in the request. Could I please also get a time on when these were taken?

4

Following on from this, could I also please get the time/date of when the photographs of the car in the request were taken?

5

Could I also get the time of when the car was removed from the locus on the 7th April 1985?

6

On what date/time was the post-mortem conducted?

 

We don’t have that information yet but Police Scotland have been given until 4 August to provide it to Delamore,

The Commissioner therefore requires Police Scotland to disclose all of the withheld information to Mr Delamore by 4 August 2015.

I have emailed Police Scotland to find out when and where I will be able to access the information and I will write about this as soon as I am able.

The victory is not so much about the information to be made public but rather it is the reasons the Information Commissioner has given for ordering release which open the door to yet more requests.

BUT I must caution that release is dependent on the particular information requested.  Other cases may fall at the hurdles which Delamore cleared.

 

I apologise if you know this already but let me outline briefly how FOI works.  All information held by public bodies is available to the public unless it falls into specific categories which are deemed to be exempt from release.  All is not lost if information is exempt because, although some categories are ‘absolute’ (i.e the information CANNOT be released), others are ‘qualified’ which means that a public interest test must be applied.  If it is in the public interest that the information be released then it is released.

In Delamore’s appeal, the Information Commissioner concluded, for one of the exemptions claimed by Police Scotland, that the public interest lay in allowing release.

Commissioner’s considerations on Section 34(1)(b) of FOISA (Investigations by Scottish public authorities and proceedings arising out of such investigations)

31. The Commissioner acknowledges that when individuals provide information to Police Scotland to assist with any investigation (criminal or otherwise) they have an expectation that the information they provide will be held in confidence and will be used only for the purposes of a police investigation. The Commissioner notes that Police Scotland are concerned that if witness statements (or parts of witness statements) are disclosed in this case, this may reduce the public’s willingness to come forward in the future and assist Police Scotland with their investigations.

32. Police Scotland have provided evidence to show that the information requested by Mr Delamore is contained within witness statements. However, in this case, it is clear that Mr Delamore has not asked for any witness statements; he is merely asking for specific facts from Police Scotland’s investigation into the circumstances of Mr Macrae’s death. For example, Mr Delamore asked for the time a photograph of a gun was taken, the date and time that a post-mortem took place, and the time that police were notified of a gunshot wound. The Commissioner acknowledges that these facts are contained within witness statements, but she does not accept that their disclosure, in isolation from the context provided by the rest of the statement, would cause the type of harm cited by Police Scotland.

33. The Commissioner does not accept that disclosure of the requested information would have any impact on the public’s willingness to assist the police with future investigations. The Commissioner considers that none of the witnesses providing the statements containing the requested information could be identified from disclosure of the factual information Mr Delamore has requested. The information does not represent anyone’s views or recollections. Overall, the Commissioner is not persuaded that disclosure of the requested information in this case would dissuade anyone from co-operating with Police Scotland in any future incident.

34. The Commissioner agrees that “public interest” does not mean “of interest to the public” but “in the interest of the public”. However, in some circumstances it may be in the public interest to disclose information in which the public is interested: if, for example, disclosure would serve the general public interest that information is accessible, and therefore enhance scrutiny of decision-making processes and improve accountability.

35. The Commissioner is aware that the death of Mr Macrae has been subject to continuing speculation over the last 30 years and it is undoubtedly of interest to the public. Since his death, there has been a multitude of news stories raising questions over the official verdict of suicide. The investigation into Mr Macrae’s death was reviewed by the Crown Office in 2010/2011, and there is currently a public petition requesting a Fatal Accident Inquiry into his death, which has now gathered more than 10,000 signatures. The Commissioner notes that there has been a significant level of public distrust regarding the original investigation into the  death of Mr Macrae. She takes the view that disclosure of additional factual information about the case could be in the public interest, by helping to establish the known facts and, in doing
so, perhaps help dispel public distrust.

36. On balance, the Commissioner finds that the public interest in maintaining the exemption in section 34(1)(b) of FOISA is not outweighed by the public interest in disclosure of the withheld information. Accordingly, the Commissioner requires Police Scotland to disclose to Mr Delamore all of the information falling within the scope of parts 1, 2, 4 and 5 of his request.

37. In this case, the information is factual and concise, and can be extracted easily from the documents. That being the case, the Commissioner considers it would be acceptable for Police Scotland to extract the information and summarise it in a single, separate, document, if they so wished. But Police Scotland must ensure that it is clear what information relates to which part of Mr Delamore’s information request.

 

Police Scotland also claimed that the date and time of Macrae’s post-mortem was exempt under section 39 of FOISA. The Commissioner judged that the information requested was not exempt because the necessary condition was not demonstrated (i.e. release of information “would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health or the safety of an individual[FOISA 2002]).  Because she so ruled there was no need to apply the public interest test.

The Commissioner’s reasoning was as follows.

Commissioner’s conclusions on section 39(1) of FOISA

45. The Commissioner has no doubt that the loss of Mr Macrae must have caused (and will continue to cause) mental anguish and distress to Mr Macrae’s family. She accepts that any press coverage about his death, or the investigation into his death, will only serve to remind the Macrae family of the loss they have suffered, thus adding to their stress and anguish. However, based on the submissions provided by Police Scotland, it is clear that media interest surrounding Mr Macrae’s death has never waned and recurs annually. Given that Police Scotland does not disclose new information about the case on a yearly basis, this cycle of media attention indicates to the Commissioner that media interest is not dependent on the emergence of new factual information, but rather it thrives on the emergence or re-emergence of theories and speculation.

46. While the Commissioner does not seek to underestimate the distress caused to a mourning family by media intrusion, she finds that Police Scotland have provided no evidence to suggest that withholding the requested information would, in any way, prevent this ongoing media attention, or that this media attention is endangering the mental health of members of Mr Macrae’s family. The Macrae family have endured repeated speculation about Mr Macrae’s death since it was first reported, and sadly, despite their own requests for those interested parties to accept the official version of events, it is likely that they will continue to endure such speculation, regardless of whether information is disclosed in this case or not.

47. The Commissioner does not consider that withholding the time and date of the post-mortem, would, in any way, lessen the media interest in Mr Macrae’s death, or that disclosing it is likely to endanger the mental health of anyone associated with Mr Macrae. In light of this, the Commissioner finds that the exemption in section 39(1) of FOISA does not apply to the information withheld under part 6 of Mr Delamore’s request.

48. Having concluded that the exemption was wrongly applied, the Commissioner is not required to consider the public interest test in relation to disclosing or withholding this information. She requires Police Scotland to disclose the information to Mr Delamore.

 

I am particularly interested in this decision and the reasoning because I have an on-going FOI request with the Crown Office who applied both section 34 and 39 – and others - to all my questions bar one.

Until recently, I knew nothing of FOISA but that position changed in April when I emailed a list of 36 questions to the Crown Office.  They had the information and so I asked them.  I hadn’t thought of Freedom of Information until the Crown Office got back to me saying that they treated my email as such and then refused to answer 35 of my 36 questions.

On Friday, 17 July, I asked the Crown Office to carry out an internal review of their response by considering again only 7 of my original 36 questions.

Oh, how I wished I’d known about the Delamore decision.  I ‘sweated blood’ trying to make my case and Delamore was waiting for me.  I knew Delamore had appealed to the Commission but I didn’t know the Commissioner had ruled on 19 June.  I had checked the Commissioner’s website on 20 June but it hadn’t been updated.  So close!

 

Hopefully, the Crown Office view will have changed in the light of Delamore’s case.  If not, I’ll head straight to an appeal to the Commissioner.

 

My questions?

Probably best that I wait until my case has moved on a bit.  The Crown Office has 20 days to reply and so I should have heard by 14 August.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Flawed Logic of Effie Deans

 

Until recently I had never heard of Effie Deans and, if you haven’t, you can find her blog at Lily of St. Leonards  and her tweets here.  Effie is unionist and, obviously, very staunchly anti-independence and is still fighting the independence battle.  I do not share her political views in any way but, just as I am, she is entitled to her views and to promote them as she sees fit WITHOUT being subject to abuse.  Here I shall not abuse but I shall say what I think about her arguments.

The colour of the government in Westminster is secondary to winning on independence.  Winning, to Effie, is shutting out the possibility of independence, for ever!

The first of her posts which I read was titled, ‘We must attack the SNP at its roots’ and it appears it is for this post that she has been ‘attacked’ on Twitter.  The abuse is wrong and it is pointless and it would still be wrong even if it were not pointless. She wrote this about the background to the abuse.

I questioned the assumption on which the supporters of the SNP base their support. …..  What I discovered last week with my little experiment is that huge numbers of Scots are unable to question the assumptions on which they base their thought. They were unable to respond with reason to my questioning of the assumption and so for the most part responded with fury. I set off a twitter storm that raged because I transgressed a nationalist taboo. Horror of horrors, I had explained logically why Scotland was not really a country. How dare I say that, splutter, splutter! But it is a country, it is! I got an awful lot of assertion. But the majority of minds were quite fully shut and not open to argument on this issue. [Source]

 

She claims to have explained logically why Scotland wasn’t a country but she didn’t.  Her case is fundamentally flawed. It is her logic alone which should be attacked.

 

The starting point for her case is this,

There’s only one good argument for an independent Scotland. But it is a very good argument indeed. It can be stated in the following way:

1 Scotland is a country.
2 Countries ought to be independent.
3 Therefore Scotland ought to be independent.

Once you have accepted this argument, then all other arguments will be impotent against it.

 

I quibble in a possibly surprising but still important way with this argument. I weaken the argument. Effie uses ‘ought’: I wouldn’t.  I would rephrase her three points as,

1 Scotland is a country.
2 Countries have the right to choose to be independent.
3 Therefore Scotland has the right to choose to be independent.

 

My rephrasing puts power where it should be; with the people of the country.  In September, the people of Scotland chose not to be independent but the power to become independent remains still with the Scottish people.

Despite this, Effie has captured the essence of the debate.  Whatever case one makes for independence it is predicated on those three points.

Being fiercely unionist, Effie continues,

In order to defeat an opponent it is necessary to put forward his best argument and then refute it. The only way to refute an argument is by either refuting the reasoning or the assumptions.

 

Therefore, Effie determines to refute the reasoning or the assumptions behind her three point argument and it is here that her logic disappears.  Let’s look at her starting point.

The initial assumption “Scotland is a country” must not be allowed, for if we do allow it, the rest of the argument follows as a matter of course.

How then does she achieve this?

Well, she sets up her definition of country.

But the vast majority of countries I can think of are independent, sovereign nation states. It would almost appear that the defining characteristic of a country is that it is independent and sovereign. [Emphasis is mine]

and two sentences later the characteristic has become definite,

Being independent therefore in the vast majority of cases is the defining characteristic of being a country. [Emphasis is mine]

You can see where this is going and Effie drives on either ignoring or not knowing that her logic is taking her closer and closer to a crash.

While Scotland is called a country owing to a quirk of the English language, it is not a country in the sense in which 99% of the countries of the world are countries. As I frequently say Scotland is a country in a similar way that Fife is a kingdom. Fife is called a kingdom, but it lacks the defining characteristic of being a kingdom. It lacks a king. Scotland too lacks the defining characteristic of being a country, for it is neither sovereign, nor independent.

 

There it is laid out, the unimpeachable logic.

Only a true country can be independent and a ‘country’ is only a true country if it is independent

and

a ‘country’ which is not independent is not a true country and can never be independent because it is not a true country.

 

Let me try and put this another way.  Effie’s logic is,

A ‘country’ which is not already independent can never become independent because if it were a country it would be independent already. 

Circular logic!!!

 

Now, if Effie’s rule is anything other than a device to deny independence to Scotland, then it would apply worldwide and not just today but yesterday and tomorrow.  And if her logic were not already in pieces it would self-destruct here.

Effie’s rule freezes the world!

No country could ever have become independent but we know that countries have, and continue to, become independent. 

But Effie’s rule precludes this!

How could this happen?

It’s quite simple.

Effie’s rule is a logical nonsense dredged up to achieve her desired end of an everlasting United Kingdom.

It is only ever meant to apply to Scotland so that Effie can enjoy her ‘right to live without a continual threat to my country’s existence.

 

There is no democracy in Effie’s world but there are Effie’s ‘right’s which trump those of all who dare to think differently.

 

There is no Effie’s rule but there is Effie’s nonsense.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Willie Macrae Part 31: Long Grass?

 

A review should be good news but …….

PS to SM 1[Note: contact details have been removed]

 

….. has the case been kicked into the long grass again?

 

For those who may be new here let me briefly put my position.  I am absolutely neutral on the question of murder, suicide or whatever.   I don’t know: there is insufficient evidence to fix on one view.  I seek the truth, whatever it may be.  I am, however, in favour of a Fatal Accident Inquiry or other formal and legal inquiry.  Too many questions remain unanswered for the case to be left where it is. 

 

Now, might this review set the record straight and let justice be seen to done?

I might be wrong.  I hope I am proved to be wrong.  But I have no confidence that answers will be given or the truth of his death and subsequent investigation revealed.

When the Crown Office deigns to speak to the public they will assert,

Police Scotland has reviewed the case in detail and Crown Counsel has full confidence in the original investigation carried out by Northern Constabulary.

 

No new information will be released.  No reasons will be given.  They will have shut down the case for a few more years …. but still the questions will remain and, occasionally, new questions will arise which challenge the official position …. and still the Crown Office will assert …. and still justice will not have been seen to be done.

 

Why should we expect another review to bring a different result?

We have been here before: the investigators investigating themselves.  The two organisations about whom all questions relate look at themselves and find, ‘Nothing to see here. Move along.’?

But more than this, everything which has been produced in the last 6 months was either already known about or should have been uncovered in previous reviews.

 

  Donald Morrison’s evidence wasn’t new but it’s importance was already denied by the Crown Office. 

Why should this change now?


  the car being returned to the crash site wasn’t new.  John Finnie raised this with the Crown Office in 2010/11 and, as far as I am aware, no action has followed.

Why should this change now?


  there being witness statements from the Crowes although they made no statements should have been uncovered previously.  The Channel 4 programme, Scottish Eye – from 1991/2 – reported that, until approached by the programme makers, the Crowes didn’t know that Macrae had been shot and had died.  That there were statements on file from the Crowes in 1985 doesn’t tally and should have been a ‘red flag’ to any semi-competent investigation.

Why should this change now?


  the Procurator Fiscal claiming there were no suspicious circumstances before the ballistics tests were completed should have been uncovered previously.

Why should this change now?

 

 

Why am I cynical?

The Chief Constable took more than 7 weeks to reply to an MSP’s letter!  This reflects poorly on Sir Stephen regardless of the subject matter. 

But now the timing of the review is perfect for the Crown Office. 

The profile of the case has been raised significantly in the last 6 months or so; there is a petition for an FAI; Scotland on Sunday carried good work just 3 weeks ago.  I’ve done my small bit.

Momentum was building and the announcement of a review gets the Crown Office off the hook and stalls the momentum.  I can imagine their words, ‘We have to wait for Police Scotland’s review.  We’ll make no more announcements until the review is complete.

 

Sir Stephen has set no time limit and he states,

such reviews are generally time-consuming

and

I am not in a position to advise you of a project timescale for completion.

 

I feel for Sir Stephen.  The top man and he’s not in  a position to advise. 

Yes, he is!  If this was important to him he would set a deadline but he hasn’t and so it isn’t.

 

Be assured, we’ll hear nothing this year…..

 

….. and then there will be nothing which Crown Counsel considers worthy of concern.  The questions shut down again.  The petition shut down.

I can hear them already.  ‘All the evidence and concerns raised by interested parties has been investigated and there is nothing in any of it.

And then with every additional issue raised, the Crown Office will keep going back to the 2015 review.

 

Is it time to give up?

No!

This isn’t about getting a particular verdict or getting a particular admission.  This is only about justice and justice being seen to be done.  An internal review can never achieve this.  Only an inquiry will do.

 

What has Scottish justice come to when we cannot trust those whose role is to uphold the law and see justice done?

 

There is something to see.  It might not show murder or suicide.  It might only show a flawed police investigation. But, until answered, the questions will remain, the Crown Office and police forever stained by the darkness of a possible cover-up.

Goodness, I sound like a conspiracy theorist!  I’m not!  I want the truth!  I don’t care what the truth is as long as I know I have seen the truth.

 

I am not going away.

 

Please!  Don’t let Willie’s death be cast into the long grass.

 

if you haven’t done so, please sign the FAI petition here.  Tweet about it.  Talk about it.  Write about it. 

 

The Crown Office are our servants. 

They administer the justice system for us. 

They are accountable to us.

Let us hold them accountable.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________

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, 6 April 2015

Willie Macrae Part 30: What’s New in SoS

 

JUSTICE DEMANDS FULL DISCLOSURE

 

UPDATE @  15 April 2015:  I have been in contact with one of the SoS journalists who assured me that there is no major information being held back.  I have been given clarification on a few points but I have a considerable amount of work to do before I can make good use of it.  Please bear with me.

 

After yesterday’s rant at the Scotland on Sunday editorial today I look objectively at their article on Willie’s death.

Despite the headlines and editorial, the case is not solved.  In fact, there is nothing which makes any cause more likely than another.  The evidence poses questions, very serious questions, for the police and Crown Office but first let’s see what was new.

There is new evidence, claimed new evidence which isn’t, doubtful conclusions, some confusion and, necessarily for a one-off article, lots of background material.  Fortunately I can dispense with the background and focus on what is new because it is there that our knowledge increases.  Also I don’t have time to sort through and correct their confusions, conclusions and claimed new evidence which isn’t.  Therefore I focus only on what is new and the reason for its importance.

 

New Evidence

 having been removed, the car was returned to the crash site

 

  1st source for above is retired senior police officer in Northern Constabulary
2nd source are Barbara and Allan Crowe, Australian tourists who found crash and Macrae

That the car was removed and later returned to the scene isn’t new; John Finnie stated that a witness had told him.  When I posed this possibility some months ago some readers, quite properly, questioned the idea on the basis that to do so would involve massive risk to the police but, with three witnesses, the likelihood is much greater that the evidence is correct.  Given too that one witness, believed to be John Finnie’s contact, ‘was a former high-ranking officer in Northern Constabularyonly adds to the credibility.

 

This raises serious questions about, for example, the position of the gun but far more important is the knowledge that neither the police nor the Crown Office thought it necessary, in any of their public statements, to acknowledge this fact. [Note: I know that there is no certainty yet about the car’s return to the scene] 

 

If the car was returned, then a crucial question to be answered is,

When were the official police photographs taken?

 

I posed this in January and its importance is as follows.  If the photographs were taken on Saturday, 6 April, before the car was removed to Fort Augustus then, provided the photos were developed, the police had a record of the car’s actual crash position.  This would help establish where the gun’s position was relative to the original car position.

In Part 12 I estimate that the actual position of the driver’s door has to be known to an accuracy of no less than +/- 24 inches before any can claim that the gun was found directly below where the car’s door had been.

 

However, if the photos were taken when the car was returned, there is no record of where exactly the car had come to rest.  All the police could use was PC Crawford’s memory or marks left by the crash. 

I have doubts about whether marks from the crash could have been used because the site had been walked over by several witnesses on the Saturday; the car had been dragged from its resting position to be taken to Fort Augustus and finally returned to an ‘approximate’? position on Sunday.

 

Delamore and Semple use the return of the car to an approximate position as a possible explanation of why the gun was found so far from the car. They note, with no doubt,

When the car was returned it was placed close to the original site, but not in the precise spot.

The authors don’t state how they can make such solid claim about the car being ‘not in the precise spot’. 

If the original car position was not known EXACTLY then it is hard to see how any conclusion can be drawn about where the gun was in relation to the position of the car far less the driver’s door as referenced by the Lord Advocate in 1990.

I ask that the authors make public all their information.  This isn’t, or shouldn’t be, about selling newspapers or books but is about justice.

 



Crown Office claims they were given two statements reportedly from Crowes although the Crowes made no statement to police [asserted but not sourced]

 

 

   

The article states,

Furthermore, the Crowes claim that, despite leaving contact details, they were not asked to give any official witness statement.

The Crown Office claims that they were handed two witness statements, reportedly from the Crowes to Northern Constabulary in 1985. But Allan Crowe says the statements were not from him or his wife. “I think the police must have been talking to someone else. I did not make any formal statement at the time and I have never been contacted by the police or any other officials since that date.”

 

If, possibly a big ‘if’, Delamore and Semple can make this claim ‘stand up’ then the Crown Office has a lot of explaining to do. 

 

How can there be statements on file from witnesses who claim never to have made them?

 

How can ‘Crown Counsel remains satisfied with the investigation into the death of William Macrae?

 

I ask that they (D & S) put more information into the public arena.

 

 

Procurator Fiscal claimed the death had been fully investigated one day before the ballistics tests were carried out [public sources]

 

 

   

I wish I found this.  The information was there and I missed it.  Well done!!!!

 

The ballistics tests, carried out on 10 April 1985, confirmed that the bullet which killed Macrae was fired from the gun found at the scene. 

How could the death have been investigated fully when the Procurator Fiscal couldn’t have known the results of the ballistics, couldn’t have known if the killer gun had been found.

 

SUMMARY

Strip everything out of this article except these three (new evidence) points and the result is still a humdinger!  I hadn’t realised this when I read the full article but the case for an inquiry has been strengthened hugely.

 

Car returned to the scene: not mentioned in any released records or public statements.

Two witness statements in Crown Office file from witnesses who claim never to have made statements

Procurator Fiscal claiming the investigation was complete before the results of the ballistics were known and, therefore, before any knew that the gun found at the scene had killed Macrae.

 

Confidence in the investigation, in the police, in the Crown Office should be plummeting!

Public concern should now be rocketing!

 

 

Delamore and Semple must go public with all their information.  To hold onto any so that Delamore can write a book would be unethical

 

JUSTICE DEMANDS FULL DISCLOSURE

 

__________________________________________________________________

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: Formatting Faults

 

 

Apologies to those who are trying to work their way through my older posts.

 

I have just found some massive issues re the layout of the posts which wasn’t present when first published.

I am working my way through these posts trying to make them look as they should.

 

 

Please bear with me.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Willie Macrae Part 29: Scotland on Sunday’s Arrogance

 

I welcome the new evidence presented in the article by Delamore and Semple in today’s Scotland on Sunday.  In Part 30, hopefully out Monday 6th April, I will review the evidence which they, and students at the University of Strathclyde’s investigative journalism course, uncovered.  The case for an inquiry should now be unstoppable but the Crown Office will almost certainly see this differently.

I have a major criticism though and it intrudes only minimally into the article itself.  I suspect that Delamore and Semple are largely innocents with the blame to be laid at editorial level.

And I need to rant about that before I look calmly and logically at the article itself. 

In this long series I have tried to be even-handed in my analysis of evidence.  The one point at which I have veered is that I come down firmly on the side of an inquiry being held but, even here, I try to be fair to both sides of the argument.  Within the Macrae case, however, much of the reporting has not been balanced: many journalists seem to have an ‘angle’ to promote and evidence is presented from that position.

Scotland on Sunday is no exception and its problems start on the front page where a photo of Willie has these words appended,

Sos on Willie1

What an invitation to buy!

But then …… the mystery isn’t solved.

False pretences and then the editorial.

 

NOWHERE in my reading of the case have I come across such arrogance, hype and false conclusions as were written for the Scotland on Sunday editorial.

SoS Leader

I feel for those whose work this editorial trashes through hype.   The reporters and students have produced good work but ….

 

McRae conspiracy theories now laid to rest

 

old-fashioned reporting to solve a baffling 30-year-old mystery

 

an exemplary piece of journalism …. has solved a 30-year mystery

 

None of this true!  The article doesn’t even claim this other than in its first paragraph which doesn’t fit with the rest of the article.

 

Good work!  Well done!   A step forward in our knowledge but not the end.  Add it to that already available and make an even better case for an inquiry.

 

Unfortunately, the leader-writer isn’t finished.

 

No doubt some conspiracy adherents will continue to insist McRae was murdered by the British state. The grassy knoll is a comfortable spot from which to view a bewildering world.

and the editor’s chair is a comfortable spot for wishful thinking.

 

But for most reasonable [of course, the leader-writer is one such] people, [ah! nice touch of negative labelling there!]  today’s Scotland on Sunday revelations are the final [a] chapter in a story three decades in the telling.

 

And then there is the article.

I’ll start working on this, now that I’ve dealt (probably inappropriately) with an inappropriate editorial.

 

__________________________________________________________________

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.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Willie Macrae: Intermission

 

I’m out of posts at the moment.

 

If you have any information you want to me follow-up or any direction to go then please:

email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or

tweet me at @calumcarr

 

I have nothing planned beyond two possible additions to the mini-series on Donald Morrison’s evidence of Special Branch surveillance but I suspect they’ll be two weeks away, at least.

 

I’ll contact  some others with an interest but I’m dependent on their interest in ’talking’ to me.

 

I’ll take time out to review other rumours, stories etc and try to put them in context.

 

Then I’ll come back and tell you what I’ve got!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Willie Macrae Part 28: Thoughts on Donald’s Evidence

 

Over the last few days you’ve had the opportunity to read about Special Branch surveillance of Willie Macrae:

-   Parts 26 and 27: Donald Morrison’s evidence

-   Part 25: Crown Office response to claims of SB surveillance of Macrae

-   Part 24: Why evidence of SB surveillance should lead to FAI

 

Today I try to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable: Morrison’s evidence and Crown Office response but before then there are two points I must make.

Firstly, if it were shown, without doubt, that Willie was followed by Special Branch then an inquiry would be vital BUT this involvement would not be evidence that Willie was murdered.  It would be evidence that Willie was ‘tailed’ by Special Branch.  No more! And that would be worthy of public examination.

Secondly, I had always assumed the statement below to be true but two days ago Donald confirmed its truth,

 

Donald Morrison has NEVER been interviewed by the police.

 

I find this  incredible!

I don’t know when Donald’s evidence first crept into the public domain but I know he shared evidence with Fergus Ewing in 2005 before Fergus raised the matter with the Crown Office.  Donald was not interviewed before or after Ewing’s involvement.

In 2011, Donald contacted Northern Constabulary to make a statement which he then made.  Parts 26 and 27 cover the background to that statement.  He was not interviewed after making that statement.

He has not been interviewed since 2011.

 

CAUTION

Throughout this post I try to be thorough and fair as I look at the various combinations of Donald Morrison and Crown Office, and truth, mistake and lies.  BUT I must accept that as I develop my thinking I make several assumptions and at each such point I could be wrong and, therefore, my conclusions could be compromised fatally.

That said, let me start.

 

BACKGROUND

Firstly let me summarise the two positions but focus on surveillance on Friday 5th April 1985, the day Willie started his final journey.

Morrison is clear. 

Macrae was observed by two individuals who, when Morrison stopped traffic to allow Macrae to do a U-turn, ran back to their cars (there were two cars); were driven off at speed following Macrae and went through a red light.  Morrison gives more detail but that is the essence of his evidence.

 

The Crown Office too are clear (apparently).  In response to Fergus Ewing MSP raising Morrison’s evidence with the Lord Advocate, wrote,

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.

Although there are a couple of qualifiers, the Crown Office gives the following steer,

Macrae was not the subject of enquiry at the time of his death

This would be the normal interpretation.  The implication of this would be that Morrison is mistaken or lying.

If the Crown Office means anything other than this, then I would view that as deliberate obscuring of the truth. 

 

Now let’s get back to reconciliation if we can and consider, firstly, Morrison’s evidence.

 

DONALD MORRISON

Donald can be correct, mistaken or lying.  There can be no other options.  I will look at each of these options and discuss how I would expect the Crown Office to act in each example.  I need to be absolutely clear here.  I am not suggesting that Morrison is lying but I cannot make the points I wish to make without including this hypothetical possibility.

 

Could Donald be mistaken?

Could an experienced policeman say, ‘I grabbed the bottle before it slipped to the roadway, The two who were taking ops would have seen thisand be mistaken?

AND could an experienced policeman say, ‘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)’ and be mistaken?

AND could an experienced policeman say, ‘Both were double-manned and went through red traffic signals burning rubber to tail him.’ and be mistaken?

AND could an experienced policeman say, ‘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’ and be mistaken?

 

NO!

 

No policeman could be mistaken about ALL of this.

 

Therefore, Donald Morrison is either telling the truth or he is lying!

 

BUT we mustn’t rule out the possibility that Morrison was correct about the surveillance but mistaken about who carried that out.  Unlikely as it may be, it is possible than Macrae was ‘tailed’ not by any state organisation but by others unknown. 

Would a competent investigating body not have considered this possibility if they were certain that the state was not involved?  Surely they would have looked at Donald’s evidence, seen that it was credible and then considered other possibilities?  If this was considered, why was no mention made of that possibility in public statements?

Would the Crown office not make a statement along the lines of , ‘Morrison supplies credible evidence that Willie Macrae was followed on Friday, 5th April 1985.  No state body was involved and, unfortunately, we found no evidence which could led to the identification of those involved.  After 30 years there is no more we can do now.’?

Why not say this?

 

Because he was not tailed by unknown others or the investigation was never carried out.

 

Could Donald be lying?

Yes he could.  I don’t believe he is but all of us lie at times.  But imagine, for a few moments, that he is lying and the police and Crown Office, having carried out a thorough investigation, know his statements to be lies.  What would we expect the Crown Office to do? 

If, in a high profile case: in fact in any case, I had made false allegations repeatedly over ten years then I would expect to be charged with wasting police time.  Morrison hasn’t been charged and, as I said earlier, he hasn’t even been interviewed.  This doesn’t compute.

Surely, in a case such as this whose profile over the years has risen, fallen and risen again repeatedly, the Crown Office would act to put an end to the falsehoods?

If Donald’s evidence was disproved in court then a large part of the case for an inquiry disappears.

 

I’m struggling to find an answer.  Are you?

If anyone can offer an explanation please share it with me.

Without an explanation, I’m led to conclude that he isn’t lying. 

 

 

Could Donald be telling the truth?

This is what I’m left with.

 

Being mistaken isn’t credible and lying doesn’t fit with official inaction against Donald and, so, Donald Morrison is telling the truth.

 

Where does this lead us?  How then do we view the Crown Office if, as I now assume is the case, Donald’s evidence of surveillance on the day Macrae left Glasgow is true?

Not in good place!

But let’s explore some more and, to protect myself from defaming anyone, let’s work on the assumption, rather than the fact, that Donald is telling the truth.

 

Assume, therefore, that what Donald has told us about that Friday is true.  Macrae was followed by Special Branch.

Firstly, in these circumstances I claim that an inquiry would be vital.  He is known to be followed by Special Branch, later that day he crashed and, the next day, is found shot with death coming in the early hours of the Sunday morning.

How could there not be an inquiry to give the public the confidence, if that is possible, that the state was not involved in his death?  Even if investigation showed that the surveillance ended within Glasgow, would it not have been proper to explore this in public? To check if there was any indication that his mental state was adversely affected by being followed?  To show clearly how far surveillance did follow him?

Surely?

 

CROWN OFFICE

Now back to the implications on the Crown Office of Morrison’s evidence being true.

What are we left with?

In this scenario,

The CO already knew Donald’s claims were true and, at best, misled the public with ‘clever’ sentence construction or, at worst, lied?

The CO responded truthfully because, based upon false or incompetent evidence in their file, they didn’t know Donald’s claims were true but, beyond this, felt no need to investigate further.

The CO and police were so incompetent that no-one really knew what happened and this truth was hidden to prevent state embarrassment.

 

I’ve nothing to write about the 2nd and 3rd options other than their sheer incompetence they would have denied Willie Macrae the opportunity of having his death investigated properly and the truth of his death being told.

Either of these would shame, not Scottish justice, but the justice system and some of those within that system.

 

But, on the basis of the scenario that Morrison’s evidence and the first option [The CO already knew Donald’s claims were true and, at best, misled the public with ‘clever’ sentence construction or, at worst, lied?] are true then what I have just written about shame palls into insignificance.

Let’s start looking at this option by re-stating the response to Fergus Ewing,

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. [Emphasis is mine]

How could we have been misled by this?  I have boldened the two qualifiers which allow some leeway.

 

From the papers

What could have been a blanket denial of surveillance is reduced markedly by those 3 words.  All that is said here is that there is nothing in those papers which showed Special Branch involvement.  There might be masses of information about surveillance which is known about but which happens not to be in those papers.  And the released statement would allow that to be ignored.

If this were done, and I speculate only, then this is akin to deliberately withholding evidence and those involved should be subject to sanction.

But there is a much worse possibility!

 

At the time of his death

The obvious meaning of ‘at the time of his death’ is ‘in the short period of time leading up to his crash’. 

Now consider a hypothetical situation in which ‘at the time of his death has its literal meaning, ‘3.30am on Sunday, 7th April’.  In this hypothesis the sentence would mean,

 “I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at3.30am on Sunday, 7th April. [Words in bold are mine]

This sentence would be true and would be compatible with Donald’s evidence because, being unconscious and on life support, there would be no surveillance of Willie.  But it would say absolutely nothing about surveillance on the Friday or on any other day. 

Surely no-one in the Crown Office would sanction this abhorrence?  But it would be a neat  (but obscene) way of telling the truth whilst misleading totally.  

If this hypothetical situation were ever shown to be true then there would be those within the Crown Office who should never be near the law again!

 

 

SUMMARY

Please bear in mind my caution from earlier: that one or more of my assumptions might be wrong and, therefore, my conclusions might be wrong.

 

My thinking has eliminated the possibility of Donald Morrison’s evidence being mistaken or lies but, alongside his truth, comes the difficult acceptance that the Crown Office has not been truthful.

 

I hate not that I find Donald truthful but that I am forced to the conclusion that the body charged with running our justice system has not been truthful.  Of course, I may be wrong.  There may be an explanation in which both are truthful although I haven’t seen any sign of it yet.

That the body on which any of us, at some time, may need to rely for justice might not have been truthful is frightening.  

Where would justice be found?

 

At this late stage I hope the Crown Office, someone, anyone can shed openness on this dark conclusion.

 

 

 

__________________________________________________________________

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.

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.

__________________________________________________________________

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 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.

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© CalumCarr 2015

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