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Bill Walker may lose MSP wages if jailed

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A DISGRACED MSP who was convicted of a string of domestic abuse offences against his ex-wives faces having his wages curtailed by the Scottish Parliament if he is jailed.

Politicians at Holyrood will consider whether they can impose the potential sanction on Bill Walker when they return from their summer break next week, a Holyrood spokesman said.

Walker, 71, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, has steadfastly refused to resign his seat despite the conviction and public pressure, including a petition signed by almost all MSPs.

He is due to be sentenced in late September after being found guilty of 24 charges spanning almost three decades following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

He carried out the attacks against his three ex-wives and a stepdaughter between 1967 and 1995.

The former SNP MSP, who was ejected from the party when the allegations surfaced, had denied the charges.

The law states that any elected member jailed for more than one year will be disqualified.

But in summary cases heard in sheriff courts in Scotland, the maximum sentence that can be handed down is one year, allowing Walker to remain as an MSP even if he is jailed .

It has now emerged that Holyrood’s presiding officer, Tricia Marwick, has instructed officials to look at the Scotland Act and advise the parliament’s corporate body on members’ pay and conditions.

“Officials are looking at the issue of the extent to which a member who is a serving a custodial jail sentence should continue to be paid,” a parliament spokesman said.

It will be considered by the corporate body on Thursday.

The Scotland Act gives parliament the power to set out pay provision, meaning changes could be made by MSPs without referring to Westminster.

Disqualification of a member is a matter for the UK parliament.

Breaches of the MSP code of conduct would not apply to private and family matters.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP, who lodged a motion at parliament calling for Walker to resign, said: “Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick is providing good leadership in seeking to deprive salary to an MSP in prison. There is a powerful uprising of disgust that Bill Walker plans to remain as a parliamentarian. He should leave. But if he defies the public will, every attempt should be made to take action against him.

“People will find it difficult to understand why an MSP would expect to take their salary if locked up behind bars. This is a sensible move from Tricia Marwick.”

 

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