An MSP who has in the past voiced strong opposition to gay rights, including comparing gay rights campaigners to Nazis, has been found guilty of domestic abuse over three decades.
Bill Walker, 71, MSP for Dunfermline, was found guilty of 23 charges of assault, and one breach of the peace at several addresses in Edinburgh, Stirling, Midlothian and Alloa. The incidents took place between 1967 and 1995.
Sheriff Katherine Mackie found Walker guilty of all charges at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. She said the evidence brought against him found him to be controlling, domineering, demeaning and belittling towards his three ex-wives
Sheriff Mackie said: “I found all the Crown’s witnesses, and in particular the three principal complainers, credible and reliable. I did not find the accused a credible witness. I reject his contention that the complainers had fabricated their evidence.”
Russel McPhate made a statement on behalf of the MSP, saying: “Mr Walker is obviously disappointed to be convicted of all the charges today. The verdicts, in particularly the comments of the sheriff, will be very carefully considered.
“In the meantime, he’d like to thank his wife, his family, his colleagues, his staff and his friends, who have supported him throughout this ordeal, which of course has lasted since March last year and is not over yet.
“Because the case has not concluded, it would not be appropriate for Mr Walker to answer any questions or make any further statement today.”
Sentencing has been deferred to 20 September.
During the trial, which lasted nine days, the court hear evidence from his ex-wives. This included Maureen Traquair, who was left with a black eye, after she said he hit her a few wears prior to their wedding. She said she was forced to wear makeup on her wedding day, in order to cover up the marks.
On showing a photograph from the wedding day, she said: “I can see the bruising that still remains from the wound that I got. It’s a dark colour.”
The court heard that when his second wife Anne Gruber, was giving birth to their third son, Walker had been with another woman. A health worker said: “What I remember clearly is on the night Douglas was born Anne’s husband wasn’t available.
“She was left alone having her baby without her husband’s support. She told me that on the night Douglas was born her husband had another woman.”
Walker, who has since denied being a “bigot”, said of an anti-homophobia logo: “I regarded that as quite intimidating actually because … it reminded me of the pre-war Nazi-type stuff banning things”.
Gay rights campaigners called the remarks offensive and pointed to the fact that gay men and lesbians were persecuted by the Nazis. He later withdrew his comment.
A former SNP member for Dunfermline, a seat he won in 2011, which would automatically go to a by-election if he is jailed for over a year, Walker was kicked out of the SNP following the allegations of abuse.