Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Willie McRae Part 9: Time Questions for Police

In Parts 7 and 8 (here and here)I used the information released by the police in 2005 to create a timeline for the Macrae crash but only 5 event times were specific to time and day.  Therefore, I estimated the earliest (and, where relevant, the latest) times at which events could have happened.

My estimates are simply that.

Only the police can be definite and I call on them to answer the questions below.

There will be more questions to come when I have completed my analysis of the police documents.

I need to point out that having answers to all these questions will not, on their own, take us any closer to unravelling the mystery but we will have an accurate timeframe against which to measure other evidence.  Almost as important will be the feeling that the police are now being open.

But if the police continue to hide behind the ridiculous reasoning used to prevent their answering Delamore’s questions,
that it is never in the public interest to disclose information that gives criminals an advantage over the police and prejudices the police forces' ability to prevent and detect crime, apprehend or prosecute offenders. Nor is it in the public interest to put members of the public or police staff at risk. [Source]
Supt Macrae noted that whilst there is public interest in providing accountability in relation to the efficiency and effectiveness of the police force and its officers in any investigation, that does not outweigh the harm in disclosing information collated for an investigation which could provide those minded to criminality with an advantage which may hinder the preventiontection of crime. [Source]
then they will continue to give succour to those who believe they have something to hide.
For completeness I append below Delamore’s response to the first of his rejections.  Despite this, Superintendent Macrae still managed to respond negatively and withhold information,
Evidently, I am of the belief that due to the investigation being 29 years old and with there being, in the words of former Lord Advocate Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, "no circumstances to warrant criminal proceedings" (July 1, 1985) then I fail to see how an exception can be maintained.

You have concluded, whilst considering the public interest, "that it is never in the public interest to disclose information that gives criminals an advantage over the police and prejudices the police forces' ability to prevent and detect crime, apprehend or prosecute offenders. Nor is it in the public interest to put members of the public or police staff at risk."

Indeed, I do not understand what advantage would be gained by criminals from a 29-year-old police investigation from a police body which no longer exists and operated differently to what Police Scotland does today. Nor is there any worry of apprehending or prosecuting offenders in this case - as there were "no circumstances to warrant criminal proceedings" and the former Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, in 2006, responding to a question from Christine Grahame MSP in Parliament, said:

"The circumstances surrounding the death of William MacRae have been fully considered on a number of occasions and there is no basis upon which to instruct any type of public inquiry." (14 August 2006 - Question S2W-27467)

Therefore, I do not accept that the information that I have asked for fits into your exception. They are mere minor details relating to the investigation with absolutely no bearing on any criminality - comparable with details already released in documentation in Andy Muirhead's FOI request (Northern Constabulary FOI Ref: 176-13) - nor do they pose any threat to witnesses nor would it give criminals any advantages.

You are suggesting that the time at which photographs were taken, the time at which the car was removed and that the time of the post-mortem are considered factors that any present or future criminals would take advantage of which, quite frankly, is nonsensical. There is no risk to any witnesses as the details do not relate to any witnesses.

If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2014
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  1. I kind of think, maybe, that there's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction within officialdom to stone-wall and obfuscate when faced with any questioning of their authority or behaviour. I also think this goes double when something has taken on the mantle of a "conspiracy theory". They seem to believe that more and more detail will only be fuel to the fire for the conspiracy theorists, and so they seek to starve them of that.

    If indeed they have nothing to hide, they are so wrong in this. Maybe release of all the detailed evidence wouldn't silence all the tinfoil hat brigade, but at least some of them are likely to be convinced by a good case for the official theory. Also, others who haven't joined in the conspiracy theorising but who are looking on with interest are very likely to see it their way, and may become active advocates for the "nothing to see here folks" party.

    In this case I suspect the police are so embarrassed that they removed the car and paid scant attention to the scene of the accident, so long before it was discovered that it wasn't an accident at all. So they try to cover up the circumstances.

    They're worrying unnecessarily in my opinion. The incident looked like a simple road traffic accident and they had no reason to behave any differently from the way they did. It's not fair to criticise them with hindsight.

    And so long as they keep stonewalling, the conspiracy theorists will be provided with an infinite supply of fuel for the perennial cries of "they're hiding something!"

  2. Hi Rolfe

    "The incident looked like a simple road traffic accident and they had no reason to behave any differently from the way they did. It's not fair to criticise them with hindsight."

    I make this very point in Part 10 which is written but won't appear until Monday next. I give myself a week for a post and, at best, I'm working about 5 days ahead of schedule.

    I've just started working on my next list of questions for the authorities which are based around next week's post.

    My view is that the refusal to release more info is the fuel. The conspiracy theory is feeding on the partial vacuum which the authorities maintain.

    I read somewhere that what makes the Macrae case difficult is that there is too much evidence.


    There is too little evidence and too many unsupported statements. These statements might be true but we're given nothing to help us judge.

    I've emailed John Finnie re this very point, among others, because in 2010 he was reported as saying that a witness had told him the car was removed and then returned to the site.

    I assume JF believes the witness is credible but for us we're left with nothing to substantiate the claim.

    Effectively, we have

    newspaper writes that JF says that witness claims .....

    Where do we get comfort there?

    I await a rely from JF.

    Some might say that I'm anti-conspiracy. I'm not: I'm pro-truth and being pro-truth means that I must question what is laid in front of me.

    At least with the released papers, sparse as they are, there is a framework which we can examine, question, shake to see if it falls down. This is why I believe my time framework is important because we can see how other events fit. If we find an event which doesn't fit then we are in business. Part of that business is to recheck my framework, to check the details of the new event and then see if we still have a misfit.

    I suppose it's basic groundwork but there's no glory for an architect because work has started on the foundations of his new building.

  3. Too much evidence? Who on earth said that? My main reason for staying away from this case has been the absolute dearth of evidence. If there had been an FAI, something would have escaped into the wild, but as it is there's bugger-all.

    Someone on Twitter yesterday was going on about all the "new evidence" from nurses or something like that. I have no idea what he was on about. He also seems to believe that the 3000 Trees monologue illuminated the case in some factual way. I sat through it, and it was drama, nothing more. I actually went to both plays hoping for some concrete information, but I came away with nothing both times.

    If you want "too much information", try Lockerbie. A US presidential inquiry, report on the web. An FAI, with the sheriff's written findings on the web and transcripts can be sourced if you know who to ask. A civil case for damages in the USA, and an appeal. Lengthy written opinions on the web, together with a selection of transcripts of the appeal submissions.

    A trial that lasted many months. Written judgement on the web. Even better, the entire bloody court transcript is on the web. As are images of many of the court productions, and again you can get more if you know who to ask.

    An appeal, with a written judgement (again on the web) running to over 200 pages. And if you know where to find them, also a complete set of appeal transcripts.

    A three-year investigation by the SCCRC, with the commission's voluminous findings finally being leaked and posted on the web in 2012.

    It takes years, literally. But the stuff is available and I'll just bet they wish it wasn't because what there is, proves beyond doubt that Megrahi wasn't the man who put the bomb on the plane.

    I don't like or dislike conspiracies. It's beyond any doubt that some conspiracies do happen, just a lot fewer than the tinfoil hat brigade would have us believe. And as you say, it's in the evidence. Go where the evidence leads.

  4. Re the nurse. There is mention somewhere in which a nurse claimed that 2 bullets were found when Macrae was X-rayed. Clearly this would rule out suicide .... if it were true.

    Much later I intend to list the various 'contrary' statements and see how they stack up.

  5. I'm not sure it would rule out suicide. The human brain is a quirky organ and there are many reports of people continuing to walk and talk with astonishing things sticking into it. In addition I believe the gun in question was a small calibre revolver, with such small bullets that one in the head might not do such catastrophic damage, depending on where it went.

    I wouldn't rule out the possibility that an initial head-shot left him still conscious, and coherent enough to have another go.

    Of course "a nurse said" isn't exactly rock-solid provenance anyway.

  6. Ah! Caught calling an assumption as a fact!


    It's a timely reminder to be on my guard.

  7. "Laden with his usual bulging briefcase and armfuls of legal document a big grin splitting his face, he turned to his office sta and said: "I've got them! without further explanation."

    "McRae wasn't wearing gloves when found. So who wiped the gun of prints?"

  8. Beware articles claiming statements as facts. For example, different articles claim the car was moved on different days and the gun was found on different days. Clearly not all are correct.

    The article you highlight claims certain events as facts and poses several important questions but please don't base your views on one article. The case is too important to judge on that basis. Read all my posts, read all the authorities' evidence, read the articles but be discriminating. This case deserves that.

    I don't know what happened?

    I am open to suicide or murder or whatever but I will not jump to conclusions based on newspaper reports which, although possibly correct, may be wrong.

    My initial reaction when first I looked as this was that something was wrong. I was tending towards murder and conspiracy but I wasn't sure. I couldn't accept unquestioningly the apparent mainstream view of murder: I had to come to my own conclusions. I had to put my early thoughts aside and look calmly and logically at the evidence. That is what I am doing in this series.

    I don't know where I will end up. I don't care where I end up on this. What is important is coming to my conclusions having looked carefully at all aspects of the case.

    If I end up thinking there was murder then I will shout that from the rooftops.

    If I end up thinking it was suicide I will shout that from the rooftops.

    If I end up confused then I will shout that too.

    What readers will get here is the best laying out of the facts anywhere in the public domain. Some on either side might not like my approach or my conclusions. Tough!

    I am not writing to a fixed view. I am writing to come to a view.

    Join me.

  9. I'm still surprised that after David Kelly, he would have gone alone from his flat to his cottage.

  10. James,

    I'm not sure if you've jumped to the conclusion that he was murdered. Have you?

    And apols for not thanking you sooner for the Christmas e-card. Many thanks.