Was Willie McRae murdered? Questions linger…

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By Mark Davey

Many theories, column inches, a TV documentary and the monologue 3,000 Trees, performed in Campbeltown last week, have tried to discover the truth about a Glasgow lawyer’s death in 1985.

The official line was that Willie McRae, a former naval officer, SNP activist and anti-nuclear campaigner, had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as he drove his Volvo along the A87 Road to the Isles to his holiday home.

Mr McRae’s car was found, rolled off the road, with the doors jammed shut. He was in a coma with a bullet lodged in his brain. Two chambers of his revolver had been fired but only one bullet was recovered.

For years controversy has raged about Mr McRae’s death which appears remarkably similar to that of paparazzi James Adanson.

Mr Adanson who had chased Princess Diana around France, in the week before her death in Paris, was found dead in a burning car with what a French firefighter claimed were bullet holes in his head.

The play’s title refers to 3,000 trees planted in Mr McRae’s memory. It was written and performed by Andy Paterson at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and was one of two plays about the same subject with the same title.

Andy Paterson has toured with the show ever since. His near perfect performance, in Campbeltown town hall chambers, fuelled by whisky, describes the lawyer’s final hours before the accident and speculates about the involvement of the security services.

Sitting in the audience last Saturday was former Oban procurator fiscal, Iain Henderson. He spoke during a question and answer session and said: ‘The locus was never secured.

‘It was the worst report I have ever seen it was either incompetance or on purpose – like Keystone Cops.’

Mr Paterson told the capacity audience his interest was sparked when a retired policeman, Donald Morrison, said he was probably the last person to see Mr McRae alive.

Mr Morrison had a conversation with Mr McRae as he left Galsgow that 1985 evening and had noticed that he was being followed by two cars.

For more more on last weekend’s drama festival see pages 12 and 13.

Campbeltown’s town hall chambers was an ideal setting for Willie MacRae’s Glasgow office. 25_c09andypaterson01_3,000_trees