Mysterious death of Camelon SNP activist subject of new book

Willie McRae addresses the SNP annual conference in the 1970's
Willie McRae addresses the SNP annual conference in the 1970's

The circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of a Carron-born solicitor and vice-chair of the SNP is the subject of a new book.

Outspoken anti-establishment figure Willie McRae was found unconscious in his crashed car on a remote Highland road 30 years ago this month.

After being taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary shocked medical staff discovered he had a gunshot wound to the head. His life-support machine was turned off in the early hours of the following day.

Despite consistent claims from the authorities there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding his death, which was officially recorded as a suicide, rumours have persisted the 61-year-old co-founder of Glasgow law firm Levy & McRae was assassinated.

In a long list of conspiracy theories, the latest is he was killed as he was about to expose a child sex exploitation ring involving many prominent political and legal figures dubbed ‘The Untouchables’.

The book, ‘30 Years of Silence: The Life and Mysterious Death of Willie McRae’ by investigative journalist Paul Delamore is expected to be available via ebook and in paperback from all major online bookstores from September 18 - the first anniversary of the Scottish referendum.

His probe into the discovery of McRae’s body in his crashed car on the A87 near Loch Loyne between Invergarry and Skye on April 6, 1985, highlights what he claims is a “worrying lack of transparency” in a case described by a civil liberty group as a “glaring anomoly” within the Scottish legal system.

Delamore says he has “set the record straight” on a very confusing story which over the last three decades - thanks to the refusal of the authorities to provide details - has raised concerns across the political spectrum.

His book is the result of a year-long investigation with fellow journalist Steven Semple which brings into the spotlight “serious discrepancies” including revelations that two eyewitnesses and a high ranking police officer from the Northern Constabulary responsible for investigating McRae’s sudden death have information that goes against the long accepted official account.

The author reveals the two witnesses who were first to reach the crash site claim to have never been interviewed.

Campaigning website 38Degrees recently launched a campaign calling for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held.

Delamore (28) said: “McRae’s mysterious death has become something of folklore within Scottish nationalism particularly in his beloved Highlands. The authorities’ account of the incident has done nothing to allay public concern and even after 30 years the interest into the nature of his death shows no sign of abating.

“Not only am I committed to giving the public the best account of the case to date, I’m also committeed to telling his story, something which has been forgotten in 30 years of press reports.”

McRae was a prominent figure within the SNP during the 1970s. He served as one of their vice-chairman and stood four times for parliament between 1970 and 1979 - losing out to Conservative Hamish Gray for the Ross & Cromarty seat in 1974 by just 663 votes.

Often described as a ‘firebrand’ politician, he was well known for his anti-establishment campaigning which included taking on the Atomic Energy Authority in 1980 at the Mullwharchar Inquiry into nuclear waste.