Bill Walker trial: Affair while wife was pregnant

An MSP has told a court he was having an affair when his wife was pregnant with their third child.

Bill Walker, the former SNP MSP. Picture: Neil Hanna
Bill Walker, the former SNP MSP. Picture: Neil Hanna
Bill Walker, the former SNP MSP. Picture: Neil Hanna

• Bill Walker MSP tells court he had affair while wife was pregnant with third child

• Second wife Anne Gruber was pregnant with son Douglas in 1970s when Walker embarked on affair with unnamed American woman

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• Walker denies being with woman on night child was born, saying accusation is “most hurtful thing I’ve heard said in this trial”

Bill Walker said he regretted embarking on the “flirtation” when his second wife Anne ­Gruber was pregnant with their son Douglas in the 1970s.

Giving evidence at his trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, the politician insisted he was not with his unnamed American mistress on the night his child was born.

He said: “That’s the most hurtful thing I’ve heard said in this trial.”

The 71-year-old is accused of attacking his three former wives and a stepdaughter between 1967 and 1995.

Walker is alleged to have ­assaulted Mrs Gruber 15 times at addresses in Edinburgh and Midlothian between 1978 and 1984. In the witness box, he said the couple wed in 1970 but the marriage became “a bit rocky” in 1977.

He told the court: “At the end of 1977, I had a long-range but short-lived flirtation or affair with an American woman. It was a 4,000-mile affair which I very much regret.”

The affair took place when Mrs Gruber was pregnant and she found out about it, Walker said.

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The court previously heard that Mrs Gruber told her health worker that her husband was with another woman when Douglas was born. Yesterday, Walker said he was at home looking after the couple’s other children at the time. He said he was “disgusted” at himself for having the affair and that his wife would not believe that it was over.

Walker denied punching Mrs Gruber in the face after the birth, saying he fended her off in self-defence after she pushed him away from his son’s cot.

The MSP is also alleged to have attacked his stepdaughter, Anne Louise Paterson, with a saucepan in January 1978.

Mrs Gruber, 71, said the family were having a last meal together before she moved out with the children when an argument began after Walker insulted the trifle she made.

Walker told the court that he had acted in self-defence after his stepdaughter attacked him and knocked his front tooth out.

“I hit her over the head in self-defence to get her off me, twice I believe, and the handle broke,” he said.

Mrs Gruber moved with the children to an address in Liberton, Edinburgh, after the couple separated, the court has heard.

She said she got the “fright of her life” when Walker leapt into her house brandishing an airgun on her birthday, 20 June, in 1981.

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Walker said he had gone to the house because she did not turn up for a date they arranged, and said he found her there with another man. He said he was carrying a black contractible ­umbrella, not an air rifle.

Earlier, the independent member for Dunfermline ­denied giving his first wife Maureen Traquair a black eye before their wedding.

He is alleged to have assaulted Mrs Traquair, 66, on three occasions between 1967 and 1988. She told the court she had to buy concealer for their wedding day in January 1967 to hide a black eye he gave her two weeks ­before.

Walker denied assaulting her during their relationship.

Walker denies 23 charges of assault and one breach of the peace. The trial continues today.

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