THE SNP candidate in a General Election battleground seat has been called on to apologise over comments downplaying the allegations against wife-beater Bill Walker.


Douglas Chapman, who is contesting Dunfermline and West Fife, said the events surrounding Walker took place when the "moral code was very different" and noted that he had supported Women's Aid.

His Labour rival, Thomas Docherty, described the remarks as "extremely ill-judged" and called on his opponent to clarify his statements.

In 2012, the Sunday Herald revealed Walker's history of violence against three ex-wives and a former step-daughter.

Walker, at that point the SNP MSP for Dunfermline, was accused by his first wife of striking her in the face, while his second spouse said he had punched her and hit her daughter with a saucepan.

His third wife alleged he had punched and kicked her in a San Diego hotel room.

He was suspended by the SNP, charged and later jailed for 12 months after being found guilty of multiple counts of domestic abuse.

At sentencing, Sheriff Kathrine Mackie said of Walker: "I formed the impression that in the few incidents where you acknowledged the use of physical force, you believed you were entitled to or justified in its use, and certainly have made no apology for it.

"Your denial appears to me to be absolute. There is no acknowledgement of any unacceptable behaviour, there is no indication of any motivation to change.

"The conclusion that there's a significant scope to work with you to address your entrenched attitudes, value and beliefs surrounding domestic abuse is flawed."

He later quit the Scottish Parliament.

However, attention has now shifted to comments made by Chapman in 2012 when Walker was suspended.

Speaking to this newspaper, he said: "I know that Bill has been a supporter of Women's Aid in Fife, and the allegations are inconsistent with the discussions I've had with Bill on these issues over the years."

He continued: "I would ask those trying to make hay with the allegations to look back over their lives and consider whether they have ever done anything that's blameworthy."

He also claimed that "some of these events took place 20 to 30 years ago, and the moral code was very different; the way divorces were conducted was also very different. In no way am I condoning any violence against men or women, but it was a different time".

Chapman was selected as the SNP candidate in February.

Docherty, elected in 2010 with a 5,470 majority, has written to Chapman about the remarks: "I am sure that you would agree that with hindsight that these were at best extremely ill-judged words, however I cannot find any record of you having ever apologised for these remarks. I am not sure in what context you thought that domestic violence was ever subject to a different moral code and I think it would be helpful for you to explain your comments."

Speaking to this newspaper, Docherty added: "Douglas Chapman has been silent since the conviction of Bill Walker and he must apologise for these deeply offensive comments."

Chapman said: "Anyone guilty of these crimes should face the full force of the law. Following evidence which emerged during his trial, Bill Walker was given a custodial sentence reflecting the nature of his crimes - and with hindsight I would not have made my initial comments."