David Walker cleared over torturer leniency appeal

Councillor David Walker. Picture: Julie Bull

Councillor David Walker. Picture: Julie Bull

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A COUNCILLOR reported to a standards watchdog over a leniency plea he wrote for a convicted torturer has broken his silence after being cleared.

Cllr David Walker asked for constituent John Lindsay to be spared jail following a brutal attack on a 20-year-old man – described as an “act of barbaric torture” – for which he was later sentenced to seven years.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Turnbull branded the intervention “preposterous” and said he had never “seen anything more ridiculous” in his judicial career.

Yet, despite this, the Standards Commissioner has cleared the Labour figure, sparking criticism from opponents.

The reference, written on council-headed notepaper, pleaded for a non-custodial sentence and sparked three complaints to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life Scotland (CESPLS).

Cllr Walker, who sits on the police committee, fanned the flames during a bizarre rant at City Chambers where he said he had not been made aware of the “level of violence” meted out in the attack and refused to apologise for writing his letter of support. He then insisted he would welcome a full probe into his controversial decision.

Today, Cllr Walker said he “never had any doubt” he would be cleared of breaching the code of conduct.

He said: “I hope all those people who were so desperate to castigate me will think twice next time before commenting on something they know absolutely nothing about.”

Investigating, Commissioner D Stuart Allan appeared to take Cllr Walker’s explanation at face value and said it “would serve no useful purpose and not be in the public interest” to probe further.

One of the complainers, Cllr Paul Edie, Lib Dem leader at City Chambers, insisted that being cleared of breaching the code was “hardly a ringing endorsement of his actions”.

“I have strong reservations about Cllr Walker’s continued presence on the police committee and it is now over to Andrew Burns to act where the Standards Commissioner cannot,” he said.

Another complainer, businessman Iain McGill, said Cllr Walker’s character was still in question.

He said: “Anyone in any doubt about the remorse shown and apology given by Cllr Walker can have a look at the webcast from the council meeting and see his contribution. If you want to see how apologetic he was for his actions, have a look at that. It didn’t convince me and I’m still not convinced.”

A spokesman for the CESPLS said: “The Commissioner decided the allegation could not amount to a breach of the code.”

Security boss John Lindsay, 52, was jailed for seven years in December. Lord Turnbull delivered a withering assessment of Cllr Walker’s involvement in the case saying he was “troubled” by the “public capacity” of his act.

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com