Bill Walker will lose 90% of salary if jailed

Bill Walker, facing jail for 23 counts of domestic abuse, finally resigned as an MSP yesterday. Picture: Neil Hanna
Bill Walker, facing jail for 23 counts of domestic abuse, finally resigned as an MSP yesterday. Picture: Neil Hanna
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DISGRACED MSP Bill Walker faces being stripped of 90 per cent of his salary if he is jailed for domestic abuse.

He is due to be sentenced on 20 September after being found guilty of 23 charges, including attacks on three ex-wives and a step-daughter, following a trial in Edinburgh last month.

The 71-year-old from Alloa has indicated he will not be quitting his Dunfermline seat, prompting protests from women’s rights campaigners.

Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick revealed yesterday MSPs will get the chance to vote on a change to the rules next week, which would see the MSP’s pay slashed if he is jailed.

The move follows a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s corporate body (SPCB) yesterday.

“The SPCB is strongly persuaded by the proposition that any member who is unable to carry out their full range of functions as a result of being imprisoned should not receive their full

salary,” Ms Marwick said in a letter to MSPs. “We recommend that 90 per cent of salary should be withheld for the duration of imprisonment.”

The MSP, who was expelled from the SNP when the charges surfaced, denied the allegations.

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

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

The Scotland Act gives the Scottish Parliament the power to set pay provision, meaning changes could be made by MSPs without referring to Westminster. Disqualification of an MSP is a matter for the UK parliament.

More than 90 MSPs have signed a petition by Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie calling on Walker to quit.

The plans to strip Walker of his pay were described as “constructive and proportionate” by Mr Rennie yesterday.

But he added: “What is loud and clear is that suspension of pay is not enough – Bill Walker must go and he must go now.”

Women’s support groups joined students and MSPs in a rally outside Holyrood earlier this week, calling for Walker to step down. But the move to change the rules and strip jailed MSPs of their pay was criticised by Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald.

She said: “I disagree with the action taken by the parliament. I think the course of the law has not completed its journey. We don’t know what the sentence is going to be and whether or not Mr Walker is going to appeal.”

An MSP’s salary currently stands at £58,092 a year.