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Bill Walker ‘never had plans to quit parliament’

MSP Bill Walker, who was found guilty of multiple counts of domestic abuse. Picture: Neil Hanna

MSP Bill Walker, who was found guilty of multiple counts of domestic abuse. Picture: Neil Hanna

  • by ANDREW WHITAKER
 

CONVICTED wife-beater Bill Walker has dismissed calls to quit as an MSP despite overwhelming pressure from politicians of all parties for him to resign.

Walker has insisted that he “never had any plans” to vacate his seat a week after he was convicted of 23 assaults and one breach of the peace charge.

The disgraced politician’s refusal to quit came as 82 of Scotland’s 129 MSPs backed a Holyrood motion calling on him to resign his seat as the representative for Dunfermline.

A further six MSPs have said they are likely to back the move after Walker is sentenced on 20 September or after the full legal process is completed, with no politician prepared to publicly support the 71-year-old.

Holyrood’s 21 ministers do not sign parliamentary motions by convention, although Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have publicly stated that Walker should step down immediately.

Walker was found guilty of a series of attacks on his three ex-wives and a step-daughter, but cannot be disqualified because he received a summary trial in a sheriff court, meaning he can only be handed a maximum sentence of 12 months.

A sentence of more than 12 months is required for automatic disqualification as an MSP.

Walker, who was expelled from the SNP when the allegations of abuse emerged, defended his decision to stay on at Holyrood as MSPs return from the summer recess next week.

The MSP said: “I never had any plans to vacate my seat and that’s it. I will just leave it at that.”

Labour leader Johann Lamont, Tory leader Ruth Davidson and her deputy Jackson Carlaw have all backed a motion from Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, stating: “The parliament believes that Bill Walker MSP should vacate his seat in the parliament immediately.”

Mr Rennie insisted it was time for Walker to stand down, as he suggested that the MSP would face increasing calls from his parliamentary colleagues to go.

He said he had already had people from Walker’s constituency of Dunfermline contact him instead of their MSP “because they believe that Bill Walker cannot represent them any more”. “I don’t think I’ve met anybody who doesn’t want to sign it,” he added.

SNP MSP George Adam said he would refuse to speak to Walker as he suggested the Independent MSP would face widespread hostility if he returns to Holyrood next week.

He said: “His office is on the same floor as me, but I don’t want anything to do with him.”

Conservative leader Ms Davidson attacked Walker’s decision to remain an MSP as “appalling” and warned it would cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds to cover his salary and Holyrood pension entitlements.

SNP MSPs Bruce Crawford, Linda Fabiani and Colin Keir said they were only likely to back the attempt to get Walker to quit after his sentencing. SNP MSP Rod Campbell said he would add his name to the motion before parliament returns next week. Independent MSP Margo MacDonald said the “full legal process has got to be concluded” before she could support the motion.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said he wanted Walker to resign “in principle” but would not back the motion yet because he is a trustee of a Holyrood group that may rule on the pension entitlement of the convicted politician.

 
 
 

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