Ex-MSP Bill Walker abuse conviction appeal fails

Bill Walker. Picture: Jane Barlow
Bill Walker. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A shamed former politician has lost a bid to overturn his convictions for twice assaulting a woman during a catalogue of domestic abuse that earned him a prison sentence.

Bill Walker was jailed for the maximum period of 12 months after he was found guilty of attacking three former wives, Maureen Traquair, Anne Gruber and Diana Walker and a teenage step-daughter, but was released early.

Serial wife-beater Walker (72) a former SNP MSP at Holyrood, had originally sought to launch an appeal on a number of grounds, but only one was allowed to go through to appeal judges.

It related to two charges of assault against Ms Traquair (66) who was punched and slapped, but was rejected by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lady Dorrian and Lord Bracadale at the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh today.

Lady Dorrian said Ms Traquair, Walker’s first wife, had spoken of violence towards her before, during and after the marriage. A later charge concerned an incident during a reconciliation.

The judge said they were of the view that it was “entirely artificial to seek to compartmentalise” her evidence on the earlier charges when she spoke of a course of conduct towards her at times when there was a relationship.

Walker, of Alloa, in Clackmannanshire, who sat as an MSP for Dunfermline before resigning in the wake of his trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last year, was not at court today to hear his appeal being rejected.

He was earlier found guilty of 23 assault charges and a breach of the peace following the trial.

Defence solicitor advocate John Keenan argued that the first two assault charges relating to Walker’s first wife were separated from the other offences he was found guilty of by a gap of about eight years between the end of 1969 and the start of 1978.

Mr Keenan said the question was whether in those circumstances the doctrine of mutual corroboration, with the evidence of one victim providing support for others, could be applied.

Sheriff Katherine Mackie had earlier rejected a defence submission of no case to answer in relation to the first two assault charges.

Mr Keenan said: “I do accept there are similar features in the sense of the appellant’s relationship with the various complainers.”

But he told the appeal judges: “Notwithstanding the fact that there are certain similarities between charges one and two and later offences these are not sufficient in terms of character and circumstances to leave aside the consideration of the very lengthy gap in time between those offences and the later ones.”

The appeal judges did not call on advocate depute Alex Prentice QC to address them on behalf of the Crown before they left the bench before returning to reject the appeal.