It has taken a few posts to get here.
Now we’re going to see the evidence of Donald Morrison, a retired Glasgow policeman, who knew Macrae. My sources are emails Donald sent to me and Mark MacNicol and so what I present may not be the entirety of his evidence but it is what he shared with me. I present what Donald Morrison saw, heard and knew about Special Branch and Willie Macrae.
In this post I present most, but not all, of his evidence which I have divided into three sections. The omitted part has no bearing on Special Branch.
In Part 27, also published today, I present all the evidence he shared with no commentary other than a brief description of how I compiled his evidence.
Let me recap very briefly. In Part 24 I talked about why the alleged involvement of Special Branch is important to calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into Macrae’s death. I described that I found the distinction between active and historical interest to be important in determining if an FAI should be held or not. I found the case to be compelling for active interest and not to be made for historical interest.
In Part 25 I showed the authorities’ three-stage response when pushed on Special Branch* involvement. There was
|no denial that Special Branch had an historical interest in Macrae.|
a denial that SB had an active interest in Macrae at the time of his death but examination shows the denial does not unambiguously rule out active interest.
a denial that the investigation was cut short. Here too the denial is not unambiguous.
In his evidence, Morrison claims that Special Branch had both an historical and active involvement with Macrae. Despite my reservations about the relevance of historical evidence I include it for completeness, because you may think it relevant and because my view of its relevance may change.
Beyond this, Morrison claims that there was Special Branch involvement in the statement he gave to police in 2011.
I’ll present the evidence under 3 headings,
|ACTIVE Special Branch interest in Macrae|
HISTORICAL Special Branch interest in Macrae
ON-GOING Special Branch interest in Morrison’s statement
and I let Donald’s words do most of the talking. You must decide if the Crown Office line is sustainable or not.
In his emails, Donald mentioned some police officers by name. My understanding is that in reproducing Donald’s words with the names included I would not be defaming those people because I would not be implying any negativity or wrong-doing on their part. I do not control the comments that readers might leave here and so, despite the risk being very small, I have removed their names and replaced them with letters.
ACTIVE SPECIAL BRANCH INTEREST
‘I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death.’
[Elish Angiolini 2005]
Let’s see how Angiloni’s statement stands against Donald Morrison’s evidence.
“FRIDAY 5TH APRIL 1985
Between 1100 AM / 12noon on 5th April, the day before Mr Macrae's death, Mr Roderick MacKay (Manager of Agnew's Store West Nile St.) served Mr Macrae 2 bottles of Islay Mist whisky & 40 Benson and Hedges cigarettes before he (Macrae) headed north.
I saw Willie coming out of the shop and then placing one of the bottles on the roof of the car while he opened the driver's door and I grabbed the bottle before it slipped to the roadway, The two who were taking ops would have seen this and that bottle would have my prints thereon and that would tie me to seeing him at the car before he set off.
Willie left West Nile St. between 11am and 12.30 at the latest. I know it was no later than 12.30 because at 12.30 I would have been in the police office for lunch. I cannot say he left Glasgow though. What he told me in West Nile St. was that he was heading up north right away to get settled in.
His last words to me were "I think I've got them this time", then he repeated " Yes I've got them this time” as he winked. Again he said for the third time, “I've got them this time" as he patted his bulging brief case. “I have to go through all this during the weekend up in Kintail.“
The body language of the two who were taking surveillance suggested to me that they were very annoyed at me speaking to Macrae as he sat in the car. As a matter of fact I looked over my shoulder two or three times and saw the man in the blue suit with an open hand gesture as if to say "what the hell is this cop speaking to Macrae?”. That was the feeling I got. At that point it crossed my mind to tell Macrae that he was being watched. Now I wish I had.
I stopped traffic to allow him to do a 'U' turn as he headed northwards in West Nile St. I unintentionally caught them (the surveillance two) on the hop. This resulted in them running northwards across Sauchiehall St and along West Nile St pushing pedestrians to the side to allow them to rendezvous with the two waiting cars which were either parked in West Nile St or in Renfrew Lane (which does not exist any more). Both were double-manned and went through red traffic signals burning rubber to tail him. I was so suspicious of the whole exercise that I decided to see for myself what was happening. The second car having gone through the lights and causing pedestrians who were crossing to scatter seemed to apologise to the pedestrians who were shouting at them by extending his right arm out the driver's window - a common practice used by police in a hurry. The manner in which this surveillance was carried out so meticulously made me very, very suspicious.
Having witnessed what happened in West Nile St, Glasgow that forenoon, I knew right away that it was very well planned and was also aware within myself that I would not see Mr William Macrae alive again. I pulled my radio out of my pocket to inform HQ about what I had seen but decided from doing so because I had not taken the Reg. No. of Willie Macrae's car.
Anyway, I tried to convince myself that Mr Macrae had been under surveillance for some time and that his life was not placed in danger. I went along to Stewart St. police office and told colleagues what had happened. The advice that I was given was 'For your own good keep your nose out of it.' I did fear for my own life and that of my wife.
I was also aware that it was a waste of time reporting the matter to police as they were already aware of Macrae being under surveillance along with Special Branch.”
What do you think so far? Are you leaning towards Donald or the Crown Office?
SHORT TIME BFORE MACRAE’S DEATH
“About 4/5 weeks before Willie's death, a former policeman (Mr Iain Fraser) who had left because of poor wages set up his own private detective agency and had an office in the same office block as Willie Macrae's in Bath St. He received a phone call enquiring if he knew Mr Macrae. He said that he did know him. This phone was believed to be from Newcastle. Iain was told that Macrae would be attending an SNP conference in Edinburgh on a particular date and he was asked to take surveillance on Willie and the other two people who would be with him. He was than asked to submit his report asap to a Box Number in Newcastle. A few days later he received a cheque for I about £130 for a days work along with another retired police sergeant from Greenock. A week or so later Iain got a job abroad and remained there for several weeks. He was not aware that Willie had met his death until he came back to Glasgow.”
“A short time [see the two paragraphs below] before Macrae's death, Constable DP (now deceased) got a call via his personal radio to attend the premises of William McRae after a suspicious break-in where no cash was ever stolen but filing cabinets only forced open. A short time later another message came over the radio saying that PC DP had attended the premises of William McRae and had found 'highly confidential files that were so important they could bring the government down' and requesting that Det. Const. WW attends. Det. Const. WW attended and contacted Supt. BH and Special Branch who arranged for all files from Willie's office to be secretly taken to Stewart St. police office to be photocopied. Supt. BH authorised documents being taken to Stewart St. Willie was not present and had not been made aware of this. Willie unexpectedly appeared at his office and was very annoyed at police removing his documents. I was present when Supt. BH told him the lie that his filings were removed in the interest of safety. Willie was raging because of this. There was so much to be photocopied that Supt. BH suggested getting another loan of a photocopying machine from M&S Sauchiehall St.
When taking my statement in 2011, Det. Sergeant GA asked me how long is a 'short time'? Is it 6-12 months? In reply I said I didn't exactly know how long it was but appeared to be short time. He put 6-12 months in my statement. I could not say for sure that it was a few weeks or even a few months. That is why I wrote to FOI Pitt St. enquiring as to when pc DP was awarded the Chief Constable's Commendation.
The background to this is that DP was awarded a Chief Constable's Commendation for finding the documents that were considered so dangerous that they could bring the government down. To give me an idea of when PC DP found this info I sent an FOI by Recorded Delivery to Insp. C, 173 Pitt St Glasgow G24 JS on 16th Feb. 2015 requesting that I was given the date PC DP (who was my neighbour on occasions in police) was commended by the Chief Constable. They have not acknowledged my letter or sent me a reply!”
Well, what now?
Do you think Donald Morrison’s evidence is credible?
There is a lot of it. It’s detailed. It gives the specifics of Special Branch involvement in the weeks and months leading up to Macrae’s death.
Do you think Special Branch has an active interest in Macrae at the time of his death?
Do you think Angiolini’s statement, ‘‘I can confirm from the papers that Willie Macrae was not the subject of surveillance or enquiry at the time of his death.’, can stand in the face of this?
Are her words, ‘from the papers’ becoming more important?
Are these three words all that prevent her words from crumbling?
But there is more. Morrison claims that there is historical evidence of Special Branch interest in Macrae.
HISTORICAL SPECIAL BRANCH INTEREST
The Crown office has made no comment about historical Special Branch interest in Willie Macrae. Read into that what you will. I take their silence as an admission that Special Branch were involved. Certainly that is where Donald Morrison’s evidence would lead you.
“Willie's executive office in Bath St was broken into 5 times as far as I recall. There was never any cash stolen but his filing cabinets were always burst open. As a rule Tommy Sheridan's small office 5 up at 12/14 Renfield St. was broken into the same night as Macrae's. It was forming a pattern! Macrae's office was 1 up to the right hand side while a Celtic millionaire director's office was to the left on the landing. He told me that he had been there for 28 years and that the security of his property had never been overcome until Macrae arrived. He blamed Willie's presence for the break-ins. I added this in my statement but again this has been deleted.
I wasn't surprised that senior officers whom I approached were not interested about the break-ins and asked me to give him 'flannel'. Willie himself knew that they were not real house break-ins and blamed Special Branch /M15.”
“I was asked to get a copy of keys to the Macrae/Murray/Spence office 1 up in Bath St. To the best of my knowledge this was a considerable time before 1985. Partner Len Murray and Macrae didn't see 'eye to eye' and Macrae left the office they had shared some 2yrs approx. before his demise. He had moved along to another office some 1 hundred yards along westwards in Bath St. I enquired of the senior officer if I could get a copy of the Chubb keys with a pencil. He replied " No, No, this can be done by pushing the keys into wet soap or plasticine.” I was quite friendly with the Commissionaire and admired the way he was turned out sometimes wearing his active Service War medals. I had too much respect for him and did not feel comfortable to ask him as the reply would be more likely negative. However I recall that I did visit the cleaning lady but she was very suspicious of police presence in the lawyers office. So I failed to get a copy of the keys.”
“Also deleted from my statement was this paragraph. I was on uniform patrol one night when dog patrol officers pulled up near to Watt Bros, corner of Sauchiehall St/Hope St. I recall that the driver knew me and stopped to say hello. To the best of my knowledge this would be either pc. Kenny or pc Alasdair (I can't remember their surnames). While speaking to the driver both of us heard a message coming over the AS radio in the van. [Note: This radio was for traffic vehicles, while beat police used a local personal radio system.] The message was to the effect that Special Branch were following Willie Macrae's car (he was a suspected drink driver). They requested that a marked police car attended to stop his vehicle as they could not do so. Mr Macrae, I believe, had a drink driving charge pending. I do not know whether he was stopped or not that night. Once anybody is taken into custody all their personal belongings are removed from them. There is no doubt that should SB wish to do so - they could gain access to examine that property including keys etc. I cannot put a time on this but I feel it may have been probably a year or even more.”
“Between 1975 to 1977, I'm not sure when, I recall being on duty with a colleague in the 5 Ways area Buchanan St/ Bath St, when we received a call asking for our position. We confirmed our position and, shortly after that, police sergeant Y told us that Special Branch and M15 were taking obs. on the premises of Willie Macrae and warned us not to go near the premises that night. Also he added that no marked police vehicles were permitted in the area of Bath St that night. None of these witnesses were contacted by police until I gave them the names 27yrs later.”
One day, a long time before his death and before he left his office in Bath St, I attended at Willie's former office with a fax message from the Procurator fiscal regarding a sudden court adjournment. The heavy maroon curtains were drawn on a warm summer's day. I pulled the curtains over and Willie said, “No! No”. and indicated that he was under surveillance from property across the road (1 up).
Another time, again a long time before his death and before he left his office in Bath St, Macrae reported to Stewart St. police office that a strange blue Triumph car was circling his block. I attended along with a colleague and obtained the registration number and a complaint from him. The Reg No isn't known now. Like most policemen at Stewart St. neither us was really surprised to learn this as we both knew that Willie was under surveillance for some unknown reason: we were never told why! I attended at Stewart St police and asked the controller to do a PNC (Police National Computer check) and the result came back as 'No Trace' as we expected. We went back to see Willie with our findings and told him that that Reg. No. did not exist. He looked at us both for what seemed like a minute and he said " M15 and Special Branch motors are not registered in Swansea”. Supt. BH decided to send two plain clothes officers to visit Macrae about his complaint. Immediately, it was suddenly cancelled after Supt. BH received a telephone message from the Chief Constable's office to say that Mr. Macrae had sent a letter of complaint to Pitt St HQ. It was then decided to send a police Insp. and Sergeant instead of plain clothes to deal with the matter.
Is this evidence credible?
I can understand the silence of the Crown Office.
But there’s still more!
ON-GOING SPECIAL BRANCH INVOLVEMENT
Morrison’s claims that Special Branch were involved with the statement he made to police in March 2011.
“My statement was taken in my home on 22nd March 2011 by a Detective Sergeant GA (now Det Inspector). A Detective Constable took the statement of Iain Fraser, a former policeman, who was in my house at that time.
I didn't photocopy the statement I gave as the Det. Sgt. promised that a police Supt. would visit me at a later date to go over the 15/16 page statement with me to see if there was anything that I wished to add. This never happened of course and I didn't get the chance to photocopy my statement. This raised my suspicion that something was not right.
No Superintendent came and I did not receive a copy of my statement. Two years later I sent a recorded delivery letter to the Chief Supt. at Inverness requesting that he forwarded my letter to FOI for a copy of my original statement. He completely declined to acknowledge my letter. Thereafter I sent another recorded delivery letter to Ms. A, FOI, for a copy of my original statement. After about several months I phoned her and asked what the delay was! She said that it wasn't lost and that a Special Branch officer was attending from Aberdeen a week the following Monday and that he would know where my statement was. Then she added "It was them them that was dealing with the case from the start".
Some two months later I got a 'doctored' copy of my alleged statement. My signature was photocopied and appended to this false statement. Omitted deliberately from my statement were 7 or 8 very pertinent points.
Last year I made a detailed official complaint to the Chief Constable for Scotland. I could not believe it when this was sent to a senior CID officer at Inverness who was dealing with Macrae's case in the Spring of 2011. Chief Inspector S sent me a letter saying that my statement had not been doctored.”
What do you think?
Is Donald Morrison’s evidence credible?
This is the crux.
If you think it incredible then, for you, the Crown Office view prevails.
If you think it credible, as I do, then only an inquiry can bring truth to the public and have justice seen to be done for Willie and his family.
I have deliberately kept my distance to give you space to form your views. In Part 28 you’ll hear from me!
__________________________________________________________________ * I use ‘Special Branch’ to cover two different situations: firstly, for Special Branch only and secondly for any state operations beyond what we commonly regards as the police. This would include MI5, MI6 or any other state grouping. You must bear in mind that when the police and Crown Office refer to Special Branch they may be limiting themselves to the official Special Branch only and, therefore excluding other groupings but then again they may use it the wider sense. Unless I say otherwise I use Special Branch with its wider definition.
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
© CalumCarr 2015
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