current affairs

Former MSP Walker jailed for 12 months for domestic abuse

Written by angusduncan

A former MSP convicted of a series of domestic assaults spanning 28 years has been jailed for 12 months.

A former MSP convicted of a series of domestic assaults spanning 28 years has been jailed for 12 months.

Bill Walker, whose case Kettle reported on last month, was convicted of over 20 counts of domestic assault and one count of breach of the peace in Edinburgh Sheriff court on 22 August.

Standing in court before sentencing, Walker appeared calm – arriving with only an overcoat at the court this morning. (20 September).

In a scathing sentencing, Walker was told that “a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal.”

Walker looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as he was told that he would serve a total of 12 months in prison for the 27 charges he was found guilty of, with the Sheriff stating that she would vary the sentence length in line with the seriousness of each crime.


Sheriff Mackie described Walker’s “contempt” for his step-daughter and three ex-wives, whom he referred to as ‘one, two, and three’ in court.

Adding, “I have noted…that you perceive yourself as the victim of various conspiracies from your former wives, political opponents, and the media.”

The Sheriff told Mr Walker that his behaviour was without empathy, saying “I formed the impression that in the few incidents where you acknowledged the use of physical force you believe you were entitled to or justified in its use and certainly have made no apology for it….There is no acknowledgement of any unacceptable behaviour.”

The abuse took place over a period of 28 years, from 1967 to 1995 – the Sheriff acknowledged the changes in attitudes during this time, saying “the circumstances of these offences…would not now be considered ‘just a domestic’.”

Mr Walker’s victims were well accomodated by the ruling, with Sheriff Mackie referring to the effects his actions had on his victims.

“As is ably demonstrated by this case the response to domestic abuse incidents is now radically different from that of thirty or so years ago.  The circumstances of these offences, where reported to police, such as with charges 5 and 7, would not now be considered “just a domestic”.  It is now recognised that the effects of domestic abuse can be profound resulting in physical and psychological harm to those who experience it, whether directly or indirectly, and considerable cost to society at large.”

– Sheriff Katherine Mackie

The former MSP and local councillor’s counsel had suggested that Mr Walker could do community work, and noted that a social work report had said he was suitable for inclusion on the Caledonian Men’s Programme – a scheme aimed at addressing abusive behaviour in men – but this was dismissed by the Sheriff.

Damaged reputation

Scottish Women’s Aid said in a statement following the verdict: “Scottish Women’s Aid commends Sheriff Katherine Mackie for recognising in her judgment on the 22nd August that the “controlling, domineering, demeaning and belittling” behaviour used by Bill Walker towards his ex-partners was a key element in the abuse he perpetrated.

“However, we have significant concerns about why domestic abuse continues to be routinely prosecuted in summary courts. If someone commits a single act of ‘common assault’ – summary court is absolutely appropriate. “

Walker, who represented the Dunfermline constituency in the Scottish Parliament, came under intense public pressure to resign his position following this verdict, sparking moves to allow Holyrood to dock the pay of MSPs sent to prison, however, Mr Walker resigned before the moves were completed.

First Minister Alex Salmond said Walker had “damaged” the reputation of the Scottish Parliament.

The disgraced politician was once a member of the SNP, who expelled him after the claims against him came to light. A by-election will be held on 24 October.