The Curious Tale of Willie MacRae…

Yesterday we learned that MI5 were historically given the authority to commit criminal acts on British and Irish citizens without the ability to hold those people who committed crimes to account.

Upon reading the following tweets from the Chief Political Correspondant at Channel 4 News and the subsequently released (heavily redacted) information, a couple of names spring to mind, but the main name i wish to focus on is Willie MacRae.

The information typed below is all open source and gathered from sources online.

Before I delve into the world of Willie MacRae’s unfortunate death, let me just quote a couple of paragraphs…

The SNP was spied on by British secret service agents, previously classified Government files seen by Scotland on Sunday have finally proved.

Claims of surveillance of nationalist politicians by intelligence officers have circulated for years, but the new papers provide the first incontrovertible evidence that the state spied on the SNP in the 1950s.

Agents from MI5 and Special Branch infiltrated the party as part of a campaign to undermine support for Scottish independence, the papers show.

Read about this here.

In July 2015, the below was written in the Guardian.

David Cameron is under pressure to justify a secret decision by spy chiefs at GCHQ that authorises eavesdropping on politicians from the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, and other Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish politicians on Friday urged the prime minister to protect the privacy of parliamentarians from the three nations, after it emerged that GCHQ had introduced new internal guidelines to allow the monitoring of communications by members of the legislatures, even though those rules bar the agency from monitoring MPs at Westminster.

Read about this here.

So as can be seen from the above statements, it would appear that MI5 have actively been involved in Scottish political matters for decades and Westminster has enabled and admitted it.

Willie MacRae (18 May 1923 – 7 April 1985) was a Scottish lawyer, orator, naval officer, politician and anti-nuclear campaigner. In the Second World War he served in the British Army and then the Royal Indian Navy. He supported the Indian independence movement and for much of his life was active in the Scottish National Party (SNP).

MacRae is remembered for his mysterious death, in which his car crashed in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands and he was found shot in the head with a revolver. The official verdict was undetermined.

Willie was an active member of the Scottish National Party and an anti-nuclear dumping campaigner.

He was active outside Scotland too, having served in the Royal Indian Navy and becoming active in the campaign for independence for India. He was also the author of the maritime law of Israel and emeritus professor at the University of Haifa. After his death a forest of 3,000 trees was planted in his Honour in Israel to mark his death. On the fateful day of his untimely death Willie left his Glasgow flat at 18:30 on 5 April 1985, to spend the week at his cottage at Ardelve near Dornie. He was not seen again until the following morning around 10:00, when two Australian tourists saw his Volvo Estate car lying on the moor a short distance from the junction of the A87 and A887 roads, about 30 yds (27 ms) from the roadway, straddling a burn. The tourists flagged down the next car to pass by, which turned out to be driven by a doctor, Dorothy Messer, accompanied by her fiancé as well as David Coutts, a Dundee SNP councillor who knew Willie MacRae very well. It was discovered that Willie was in the car.   He was not wearing a seat belt. Another car was sent to call the emergency services. Dr Messer examined Willie and found that he was still alive and breathing. She noted that one of his pupils was dilated, indicating the possibility of brain damage, and estimated that he had been in that state for 10 hours.


Willie was removed by ambulance to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, accompanied by Dr Messer. On arrival it was decided to transfer him to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. At Aberdeen it was realised that the incident was more than a road accident; six hours after he had been found, a nurse washing his head discovered what appeared to be the entry wound of a gunshot. An X-ray confirmed that Willie McRae had been shot above his right ear and a bullet was detected in his head. His brain was severely damaged and his vital functions very weak. The following day, on Sunday 7th of April, after consultation with his next of kin, Willie MacRae’s life-support machine was switched off. An investigation into Willies death was headed by Chief Superintendent Andrew Lester of Northern CID. Despite no weapon having yet been found, Willies car was moved at 12:00 on 7 April. It later transpired that the police had kept no record of the precise location where the car had been found, and the position stated by them was later found to be 1 mile (1.6 km) in error, and was corrected by a witness who had been present at the scene.

A weapon was found the following day, in the burn, over which the car had been discovered, 60 ft (18 m) from the vehicle. It was a Smith and Wesson .45 revolver belonging to Willie MacRae which had been fired twice. No fingerprints were found on the gun, despite MacRae not wearing gloves when he was found.

Although it was ruled at the time by authorities that Willie McRae’s death was a suicide, the official account has been disputed, some claiming that the distance from MacRae’s car at which the gun was found and the lack of fingerprints on it rendered such a verdict, not credible.

  • Hamish Watt, a Scottish Member of Parliament from 1974 to 1979, has been quoted as saying that Willie MacRae was assassinated for his too-extensive study of NATO activities in Scotland.
  • At the time of his death, he had been working to counter plans to dump nuclear waste from Dounreay into the sea and on land at Mulwharcher in South Ayrshire. Due to his house being burgled on repeated occasions prior to his death, he had taken to carrying a briefcase containing copies of documents relating to all of his work. The briefcase was kept with him at all times. However, his brief case was never found following his death, and  all other sole  copies kept in his office were stolen when it was burgled, no other items being taken.

In 2005, Fergus Ewing MSP requested a meeting with Elish Angiolini, the Scottish Solicitor General to discuss allegations that have persisted that Willie MacRae was under Secret Service surveillance at the time of his death. The request was rebuffed, with Angiolini claiming that he had not been under surveillance and that she was satisfied that a thorough investigation into the case had been carried out. However, in July, 2006 a retired police officer, Iain Fraser who was working as a private investigator at the time of Willies death claimed that he had been anonymously employed to keep MacRae under surveillance only weeks before he died.

The death of Willie MacRae received further attention when the events surrounding it formed the basis of a broadcast of the STV show Unsolved, originally broadcast in November 2006.

In November 2010 John Finnie, the SNP group leader on Highland Council and a former police officer, wrote to the Lord Advocate urging her to reinvestigate Willie MacRae’s death and release any details so far withheld. Finnie’s request was prompted by the release the previous month of further details concerning the death of David Kelly. In January 2011 the Crown Office requested the files on the case from Northern Constabulary.

A Freedom of Information request was made to Police Scotland in 2014 which was eventually refused even though a former Lord Advocate in 1985 stating there were “no circumstances to warrant criminal proceedings”.

In 2016, the Herald reported that vital evidence related to the death of Mr MacRae was no longer in their possession, and that they cannot explain where the items have gone.  Here is a couple of paragraphs from the article which can be found here.

Now it can be revealed the .22 Smith & Wesson revolver found at the scene, said to be illegally owned by McRae, has disappeared with no administrative record as to why it was discarded, where it ended up, or when it vanished.

Other items recovered from the area and from McRae’s person whilst he was in hospital – including files which, for many years, were said to be linked to his anti-nuclear campaigning – are also no longer in the possession of Police Scotland.

And vital forensic evidence to support the assertion that McRae committed suicide does not exist”.

On top of the above, in 2017, just last year, a retired Policeman who was the last person to see Willie McRae alive has received a death threat.  You can read about it here.

A couple of paragraphs from the article state

Donald Morrison believes the chilling anonymous letter was linked to his campaign to discover the truth about the lawyer’s mysterious demise in 1985. 

The stencilled message reading: “Let’s hope the next victim of a police shooting is you,” was posted from Glasgow to his home in Banffshire two years ago. 

After filing a complaint with the police, the 74-year-old then began to suspect that he was being followed and also believes his phone and email have been hacked.

Over the years with the discovery of North Sea Oil and Gas, the Secret McCrone Report and the death of Willie MacRae in an apparent suicide, it makes you wonder why Scottish Independence supporting politicians are really a threat to National Security to the point that the politicians of the day are targeted by spying and covert operations to keep Scotlands wealth secret.

I’ll let you make up your own mind!

Other Sources: Wikipedia and Electric Scotland


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