SNP leader Alex Salmond has responded to the party’s decision to suspend MSP Bill Walker following allegations contained in a Sunday newspaper.

The party suspended the MSP after claims that the seventy one year old had assaulted three of his former wives were reported in the Sunday Herald.

Commenting on the suspension of Bill Walker MSP from the Scottish National Party and therefore from the SNP Parliamentary Group, SNP leader Alex Salmond said:

“The SNP’s rules are very clear, and provide for decisive but fair action.  The correct action has been taken by the National Secretary, in consultation with me as party leader, of suspending Bill Walker from the SNP and the parliamentary group pending a full investigation of the facts and circumstances.

“The SNP’s strongly held position is zero tolerance of violence against women.   The information was not reported in Mr Walker’s candidate process as it should have been, and the right course of action has been taken.”


# Louperdowg 2012-03-04 20:49
Seems fair to me.
# megsmaw 2012-03-04 20:54
Makes a refreshing change from Labour’s way of handling these types of situations.
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-04 21:09
Decisive action! Lamentable, take note
# brusque 2012-03-04 21:10
There is never an excuse for domestic violence. Mr Walker must have known that his record of abuse with 3 previous wives, would come to the fore at some point. Especially given the amount of digging the Unionists will be doing for the next couple of years!

The fact that someone found a big stick to beat the SNP with is going to spur others on all the more now.

If any and all infractions are dealt with this expediently, the SNP can hold their heads up.

It is those who seek to replace the overturned rock and pretend there was nothing to see, who should be ashamed of themselves.
# Glasgow 2012-03-04 22:44
If the old boy is guilty of these crimes then fair enough. Let’s determine guilt before assuming any ‘claims’ as fact though.
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-05 13:46
“There are two sides to every story and I dispute almost entirely all the allegations that have been made against me.” (my emphasis)

That sounds like a partial admission of guilt to me, albeit expressed in political language.
# mmarsattacks 2012-03-05 20:37
Indeed. That’s why he has been suspended while these allegations are investigated. If they prove to have substance I fully expect him to be expelled from the party.
# Exile 2012-03-06 08:51
expediently Do you perhaps mean expeditiously? I know expedient CAN mean ‘appropriate’, but it can also mean ‘inclined towards methods or means that are advantageous rather than fair or just’ (the first meaning that comes to my mind on reading it), which is obviously not what you intend to say.
# John Lyons 2012-03-06 15:00
Yes, but Salmonds response and th immedate suspension suggest that as attention is brought to unfit people they will be delt with and removed appropriately, essentially making the SNP stronger. Lamonts approach of ignoring issues in the hopes that they go away all by themselves lets them fester. That’s how a bullying culture developes.

That which does not break us makes us stronger.
# Triangular Ears 2012-03-04 23:08
The difference of course is that Eric Joyce is only alleged to have assaulted men.

I would prefer to see a zero tolerance approach to violence towards anyone, regardless of gender.
# mmarsattacks 2012-03-05 20:25
To be fair, Eric Joyce HAS been suspended from his party. It’s just that his ‘leader’ won’t comment on the situation…
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-04 23:25
The zeal the Herald has shown investigating this case is commendable.

Hopefully they will still be in time to un-earth Mr. Marshall’s, thus showing lack of politically motivated biass, which is doubly commendable.

If they do, I solemny promise to susbcribe the online version.
# Ben Power 2012-03-05 00:05
Prompt and decisive action to treat the matter fairly for all concerned. No mucking about.

If he has been abusive and did not reveal that side of things in the preselection and election processes we should not have an abusive person in government. Perhaps this will be an example in the future if it is proven.
Bullying and abusive behaviours are prevented and stopped from the top down.
# C2DEalba 2012-03-05 00:23
If he is suspended from the party and then dismissed by the party, does that mean an election? Sorry to ask peeps but not sure of the rules. In the Eric Joyce case, I thought it was possible for him to be removed from the party but he can remain an MP as an independent. Thus is it the same for an MSP?

The Herald have certainly done a good job in reporting however why now?

Mr Walker must have known these facts would emerge but perhaps at his age he didn’t care. Good wage for him at his age with an equally good pension, I assume are the motives. I’m amazed the SNP procedures for vetting didn’t smell something wrong with 3 marriages.

The party has certainly acted swiftly with comment and action compared to the Labour effort so excellent communications crisis strategy procedures and processes.
# oldnat 2012-03-05 00:46
Interesting question.

As far as I can make out from the Scotland Act and the Parliament’s Standing Orders, Parliament can withdraw all privileges of members (including attendance at Parliament and salary) but not actually expel a member.

Certainly an individual party couldn’t do it.
# Exile 2012-03-06 08:55
Why on earth should they “smell something wrong with 3 marriages”? The issue here is alleged assaults, not the number of marriages. Marriages often fail. Serial assault is something else entirely.
# Marga B 2012-03-05 01:45
It’s a pity if the guy has at last managed to put this shameful behaviour behind him – it can be seen as a kind of mental illness or addiction, and at least in Spain there are special treatment centres for this kind of individual (mandatory of course if the law becomes involved).

But he can’t be allowed to deceive his employers and let down his constituency by this secrecy, and will have to go.
# Angus 2012-03-05 08:27
Squeaky clean, thats what the SNP has to be, and he was rightly suspended.
Unionists politicians can generally get away with a lot, Nationalists cant.
# derick fae Yell 2012-03-05 08:37
Irrespective of the merits of the individual case, I do have a concern that selection processes need to be tightened up. Example – both Shirley Anne Somerville and Joan McAlpine, were on regional lists. Not good use of your assets.
# heraldnomore 2012-03-05 12:08
Derick I think that was by choice rather than design, for at least one if not two, preferring a list rather than constituency commitment.
# Barontorc 2012-03-05 10:03
If Bill Walker’s made of the right stuff, he’ll offer an absolute apology to the SNP for keeping this information under the table and walk away with kudos.
# Blanco 2012-03-05 10:06
A shame for the people of Dunfermline, if there is a bye election they will probably be getting Willie Rennie back (I assume Bill Walker will stand down, but who knows?) Shame Anne McLoughlin or Shirley-Anne Somerville are not Fifers, as they would be good candidates for a bye.

A lesson to learn from this is that there should be an internal investigation into the rest of the new intake. I can’t help feeling that the sheer numbers of new faces makes for a high likelihood of further dodginess appearing.
# Holebender 2012-03-05 10:31
Are you saying the SNP would lose a byelection to the LibDems???
# Blanco 2012-03-05 15:26
Hmm, perhaps not. I had assumed the Libs came a close second in D’line in 2011 but I’ve had a look and they were in fact a distant third.

Looking good for a bye election 🙂
# Caadfael 2012-03-05 10:41
Better to lose a few early to internal vetting prior to selection than have these things found by others and used as leverage against us!
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-05 12:04
Strange headline for this in the Herald today, bit more in character:…/…
# Angus 2012-03-05 12:36
Quoting nottooweeorstup  id:
Strange headline for this in the Herald today, bit more in character:…/…

British media corruption at its best
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-05 16:05
yep, and as usual my comment on the strange choice of headline has been binned.
# Rafiki 2012-03-05 13:01
When Margaret Ewing died, Richard Lochhead stood at the Moray by election; he was a Regional MSP so had to resign from the Scottish Parliament. Mary Scanlon was the Tory candidate and she also had ro resign from the Scottish Parliament. Richard was elected, Mary Scanlon was not so had to wait for the next election. Mr Rennie will not be interested in removing himself from the Scottish Parliament until 2015!
Always assuming there will be a by election?
# Holebender 2012-03-05 13:41
So true.
# Talorcan 2012-03-05 13:21
I think a lot of you people should cool your jets. Mr. Walker has only been suspended pending an investigation.
Let’s just wait and see, shall we?
# lochside 2012-03-05 13:54
Call me cynical..but why should this story come to the fore so close on the Eric Joyce affair? A cursory read through the Sunday Herald will demonstrate that Tom Gordon , the Lead Political Editor, is doing his utmost to help out ‘Scottish’ Labour. And he’s been doing it for years..that’s why I won’t buy it again!
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-05 14:23
“Pandas are no gift”

Shouts Scotland for Animals (sic and no, is not a labour charity)


Now someone will try to convince us Mundell is a present from the british gods; as if.
# 1scot 2012-03-05 16:21
My candidate vetting lasted almost 5 hours a couple of weeks ago. The SNP are very thorough about this. The only way he could get as far as he did means he did not tell all. He may not have lied, however he must have missed out the naughty parts of his past. He therefore deserves all he gets.
# Tearlach 2012-03-05 16:44
Good discussion on this at Wings over Scotland…/…

It is pointed out that Mr Walker must have answered “no” to the question “Are there are any issues in a candidates background which would interest the media. The candidate is invited to answer yes or no and expand upon a yes answer.”

If that is true it may suggest that he mislead the candidate selection committee.
# Holebender 2012-03-05 16:50
…or it could be that he genuinely didn’t think it would be anything which would interest the media. It may be considered normal behaviour in his circles.
# Tearlach 2012-03-05 17:53
# C2DEalba 2012-03-05 18:21
Which makes him all the more alarming as an MSP, imagine being a woman going to him for help with a matter involving domestic abuse! He thinks she deserves it! Treated badly by one man is bad enough but then the system starts to kick you as well.

I think he forgot to mention for chance of position and power with its financial benefits for a cushy older life.
# Exile 2012-03-06 09:32
Well it wouldn’t interest the media if he was a Labour MSP. Although of course it should, whatever the party.
# velofello 2012-03-05 20:46
So our past misdemeanors are never to be forgiven?
Was he prosecuted? No prosecution, so no case to answer?
I know nothing of this man but i suggest not to trip over yourselves in the rush to be squeaky clean.
It is almost a year since he was elected, and campaigned before the election. Were each of these former wives totally unaware that he was putting himself forward as a candidate?
And remarkedly they are indignant following on close to the Joyce affair?
# lumilumi 2012-03-05 21:07
This is the ugly face of moralism and trial-by-tabloid.

Now, I do not in any way condone any violence, towards women or men or children, but what happened to innocent until proven guilty and all that?

That said, I think Walker was naive at best not to mention this during the selection process (unless the ex-wives had put it behind them and only come out of the woodwork prompted by some third party).

The anti-independence parties/media will try their utmost to dig dirt on the SNP – too bad the media is not as zealous about the anti-independence parties.

Anyway, the SNP has shown decisive leadership in promptly suspending him pending an investigation and issuing a statement. Compare that to the Labour fiasco over Joyce – and the guy’s antics were witnessed by several people at first hand and he’s been charged.
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-05 21:20
Quoting lumilumi:
This is the ugly face of moralism and trial-by-tabloid … what happened to innocent until proven guilty and all that?

He is innocent until proven guilty. He’s been suspended pending an investigation. It won’t be the abuse itself – if true – that is being investigated, but the failure to disclose information. It seems vanishingly unlikely that the media have managed to get all three of his ex-wives to invent these allegations (even if they prompted them do disclose it), so there is a very strong prima facie case against him and it is right that he is suspended.

Quoting lumilumi:
too bad the media is not as zealous about the anti-independence parties

They are. They may sit on stories until they’ll have the most impact, but they dig dirt on anyone and everyone in the public eye. They’re already claimed at least three UK Cabinet ministers’ scalps.
# lumilumi 2012-03-05 21:45
Yes, I agree with what you’re saying, Jiggsbro.

What I was trying to say is that this type of trial-by-tabloid makes mud stick even if the allegations were later found to be untrue. Which they might or might not be.

I also agree that the SNP are investigating their own selection process, as they should, and they can’t really investigate the root of this. Either it’s a police matter, or up to investigative journalist (which might degenerate to trial-by-tabloid). However, the general public concentrates on the headline, perhaps branding Mr Walker as a wife-beater when nothing has been proven (yet).

My comment about anti-independence parties referred to those parties in Scotland, not in the UK. The media have indeed brought down three UK ministers. But the media seems quite lenient to anti-independence parties in Scotland. When will they stop sitting on their stories?
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-06 09:26
The anti-independence parties in Scotland aren’t in government. The media will usually concentrate on government scalps over opposition scalps. They’ll stop sitting on the other parties’ stories when those parties (and people) are sufficiently high profile to make it worthwhile. That may be when they are in government, or it may be when some connected story is making the news.
# Exile 2012-03-06 09:40
I think you’re being a bit too kind to the media, Jiggsbro. For instance, wasn’t Stephen Purcell in power when he self-combusted? That was certainly given a softly softly treatment in the press and on the BBC.
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-06 09:50
You mean when they claimed that someone suffering a nervous breakdown was being treated for a chemical dependency, even after his psychiatrist released a letter saying he wasn’t? That’s ‘softly, softly’ in your book, is it?
# Holebender 2012-03-06 09:58
You can’t claim the Scottish media’s reporting of Purcell and/or Glasgow City Council has been anything but cursory, at best. There has been a massive cover-up.
# Exile 2012-03-06 09:36
I’m certainly not squeaky clean myself. Things can get too tough in marriages sometimes. But actual assaults on 3 separate wives? And he didn’t inform the selection panel? Let’s get real here. I take my hat off to the guy if he’s managed to deal with his problems, but not to declare this suggests a very cavalier attitude towards the SNP and the whole national movement given what we all know of the media.
# Talorcan 2012-03-05 21:58
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
# Dundonian West 2012-03-06 16:03
Suspension yes.
Picking at the remains is exactly what Lamontt did with Joyce.
He was suspended for the alleged assaults.CORRECT.
Two days later,in full’macho mode’,she kicked him when he was down,and pontificated regarding the 17 year old female.WRONG.

We’re above that behaviour.
Let the SNP investigation continue,and keep our counsel.

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