CAMPAIGNERS have launched a petition calling for a fatal accident inquiry to be held into the mysterious death of SNP activist and campaigner Willie McRae.

The death of the lawyer on April 6 1985, was officially ruled as suicide - but many believe he was murdered with rumours of involvement by state security services.

Now a group of campaigners has launched an online petition ahead of the 30th anniversary of his death, urging Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland to instigate a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the circumstances surrounding his death.

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Campaign spokesman Mark MacNicol, who last year produced the play 3000 Trees about the case, said the intention was to show there was serious public concern about the death of McRae, which is required as part of the criteria for holding an FAI.

"It is unrealistic for us to expect an FAI would actually find out who killed Willie McRae," he said: "But a satisfactory result would be that an FAI overturns the suicide verdict and replaces it with a verdict of unlawful death."

After leaving Glasgow to drive to his holiday home in Dornie McRae was found badly injured in his crashed car on a remote spot in Wester Ross. He died the next day. Medical staff found a gunshot wound behind his right ear and police later recovered a weapon, leading to the verdict of suicide.

However the petition, which will be launched on campaigning website 38degrees.org.uk today, states there are sufficient questions to warrant a "long overdue FAI" into McRae's death.

MacNicol said there are number of serious allegations that require thorough investigation, such as McRae - who was a well known anti-nuclear campaigner - being under "highly aggressive" surveillance by Special Branch, which has led to an inquiry being "avoided by multiple Lord Advocates since 1985".

The petition also outlines concerns which have been raised about other aspects of the case, such as the gun with which McRae was said to have shot himself being found a distance away from his vehicle, according to one of the first witnesses on the scene. It is also said McRae left Glasgow with briefcases which were missing from the car when he was found.

One of those who does accept the official version of events is McRae's younger brother, Dr Fergus McRae, who recently spoke out against demands for a fresh inquiry, saying he was "positive" there had been no murder.

MacNicol expressed sympathy to him, but said there was a "bigger picture" which meant it was important that McRae's death was investigated, with the official verdict of suicide making a "mockery" of the Scottish justice system.

He also said the campaign group would investigate other action - such as judicial review - if the petition was rejected by the Lord Advocate.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "Crown Counsel are satisfied with the extensive investigations into the death of William McRae and have instructed that an FAI will not be held into the circumstances of Mr McRae's death."