Bill Walker trial: ‘MSP pushed ex-wife to ground’

An MSP allegedly put his former wife in hospital by pushing her to the ground, a court has been told.

MSP Bill Walker outside Edinburgh Sherrif Court. Picture: Toby Williams

• Bill Walker pushed his second wife to the ground, resulting in her being admitted to hospital, it has been alleged in court

• Anne Gruber was taken to accident and emergency after hitting her head on concrete

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• Walker is accused of a string of attacks on Ms Gruber and three other women over 28-year period

Bill Walker’s second wife, Anne Gruber, went to accident and emergency after hitting her head on concrete, the trial heard.

The 71-year-old politician is accused of a string of attacks on Mrs Gruber and three other women over a 28-year period.

The independent member for Dunfermline denies 23 assaults and one breach of the peace.

On the fourth day of Walker’s trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Dr Kranti Hiremath said she had been asked to review Mrs Gruber’s medical records from the 1970s and 1980s. She read to the court an entry by Mrs Gruber’s doctor on 5 November 1983. It said: “She attended the accident and emergency department at Royal Infirmary at 4am or 5am, having been pushed by her husband, falling to the ground, striking her head on concrete.”

The doctor’s notes said Mrs Gruber, then known as Mrs Walker, was not unconscious but had bruising and swelling to the back of her head, the court heard.

Dr Hiremath read another entry from a doctor at the time.

“My opinion is that Mrs Walker’s condition of anxiety and depression over many months has been largely due to her husband’s behaviour which appears unreasonable and latterly violent,” it said.

Under cross-examination by Walker’s lawyer, solicitor advocate Gordon Martin, Dr Hiremath agreed that the medical records were based on Mrs Gruber’s account of events.

The court later heard from Detective Sergeant Paul Dick who detained Walker and interviewed him several times at Glenrothes police office after the allegations came to light.

Mr Dick read from a transcript of a police interview in which the MSP was asked about a claim that he punched first wife Maureen Traquair in the eye two weeks before their marriage in 1967. Ms Traquair previously told the court she had to buy make-up to hide a black eye on her wedding day.

Walker told police he had “absolutely no recollection” of the incident, Mr Dick said.

Mr Dick said that when asked about violence in his relationship with Mrs Gruber, Walker said she once tried to stab him with an old metal dagger. The officer said Walker laughed as he described how his wife advanced on him with the dagger. “She came at me with this thing,” he told police. “I was lucky I managed to grab it or it would have been right in my abdomen.”

Mr Dick said Walker admitted he hit Mrs Gruber’s daughter Anne Louise Paterson over the head with a saucepan in 1978. He told officers he acted in self-defence when he was assaulted by his stepdaughter.

“She actually jostled me and literally punched me and, I admitted this before, I did hit her in the head twice,” Walker said in another extract read to the court.

In police interviews, Walker said an allegation he had taken an air rifle to Mrs Gruber’s house was “outrageous” and “ridiculous”. His former wife previously told the court he had jumped through her French windows with the weapon on her birthday after their separation in 1978.

Mr Dick said Walker told him he was “distraught” to learn his wife was with another man that night and went to the house. The MSP denied he had taken an air rifle with him and said it may have been an umbrella.

The trial, before Sheriff Katherine Mackie, continues today.