Bill Walker trial: MSP ‘missed birth of child’

Bill Walker MSP, pictured in parliament in April of last year, is currently on trial over assault charges. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Bill Walker MSP, pictured in parliament in April of last year, is currently on trial over assault charges. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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AN MSP was with another woman the night his wife gave birth to their third child, it has been claimed in court.

Bill Walker was allegedly “up to no good” as his second wife, Anne Gruber, gave birth to the couple’s third son, Douglas.

The trial of Walker, 71, was also told that he taped the phone calls of his third wife, Diana Walker, 61, and made her sign an “agreement” to do all the household chores.

She said she spoke to journalists about her ex-husband after being “mad” to hear him supporting a Women’s Aid project for victims of domestic abuse.

Mrs Walker told a sheriff her “hypocritical” ex-husband must be “brought to account” for ­alleged domestic violence.

The Independent MSP for Dunfermline is accused of a string of attacks against three former wives and a step-­daughter between January 1967 and January 1995.

He denies 23 assaults and one breach of the peace in a trial which began at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

Former health visitor Mary Walker, 75, said she paid a professional visit to Mrs Gruber shortly after the birth of the couple’s third son in the 1970s. She said she found Walker’s wife “pale, unhappy-looking and shaking”.

The health visitor 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.”

She added that Mrs Gruber had told her Walker had been “up to no good” elsewhere that night and that he was “physically and emotionally abusive”.

“She was unhappy and frequently crying,” she said.

Diana Walker told the court her former husband had a machine on which he would record her phone calls.

“My friends couldn’t phone up and speak, because we knew he’d be listening,” she said.

The MSP is accused of assaulting Mrs Walker on four occasions between 1988 and 1995.

She said he had “whacked” her a few weeks before their marriage in 1988, when the couple were in a lift after a wedding reception in Edinburgh.

“He whacked me on my face so hard my head was spinning,” she said. “It was out of the blue, I didn’t see it coming. It was full-force.”

Mrs Walker, a primary school teacher, said that when she confronted her fiance about the incident, he said she had “provoked” him.

On an occasion after they married, she said she had to wear dark glasses and foundation on a trip to a restaurant to conceal a black eye he gave her during an argument at their home at Blair Logie, near Stirling.

“We had a big row. He started shouting at me and then he thumped me one in the face,” she said.

On another occasion at the house, he had thrown a tray towards her, the court heard.

The couple later moved to a new house in Alloa, where Mrs Walker said her husband once slapped her repeatedly across the face.

They separated for a while, and on her return she said she had to agree to do all the chores.

“He made me sign an agreement that I would do all the shopping and cleaning, otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed in the house,” she said.

The couple divorced in 1998, the court heard.

Walker’s lawyer, solicitor advocate Gordon Martin, suggested that she had spoken to the press and made up allegations in order to jeopardise his client’s political career.

“No, I wanted his constituents to find out what sort of man it was that they had elected,” she said.

Mrs Walker said she had been “mad” to hear him speak in support of a lottery grant to a Women’s Aid initiative in ­Dunfermline.

“That’s hypocritical,” Ms Walker said.

“How dare he when he is one of the perpetrators of domestic violence and he needs to be brought to account for it.”

The trial, before Sheriff Katherine Mackie, continues.

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