A NEW petition calling for a fatal accident inquiry into the mysterious death of SNP activist and campaigner Willie McRae has attracted more than 1,000 signatures a day.


Five days after campaigners set up the petition, 6,500 signatures out of a target of 7,000 had been collected calling on the Crown Office to consider holding an FAI into the death of the lawyer on April 6 1985.

His death was officially ruled as suicide but some believe he was murdered and there were claims by campaigners of involvement by state security services.

The online petition launched ahead of the 30th anniversary of Mr McRae's death urges Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland to instigate an FAI and a campaign spokesman said the number of signatures so far showed the level of public support.

Mark MacNicol, the campaign spokesman, said the group would meet to discuss how many signatures they should stop at before presenting the petition to the Crown Office given so many had been collected in less than a week.

Mr MacNicol said: "One of the key elements of FAI legislation is whether there is serious public concern."

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

The petition launched on campaigning website 38degrees.org.uk states there are sufficient questions to warrant a "long overdue FAI".

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

The petition states: "One thing we are all in agreement with, however, is that there are sufficient unanswered questions to warrant a long overdue FAI.

"In addition to the highly suspicious circumstances surrounding his death there are also a number of serious allegations that require thorough investigation, but which, to date, have been ignored, including the statements of two police officers, now retired, with direct knowledge of events surrounding Willie's death.

"Had Willie died at his place of work, while under arrest, or in prison, a Fatal Accident Inquiry would have been mandatory.

"Not holding an inquiry under these circumstances makes a mockery of the Scottish judiciary. "

It adds: "The Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976 requires that an inquiry be launched if the death is: sudden; suspicious; unexplained; or gives rise to serious public concern.

The petition also outlines concerns which have been raised about other aspects of the controversial case. They include the fact that the gun with which Mr McRae was said to have shot himself was found a distance away from his vehicle, according to one of the first witnesses on the scene.

It is also said Mr McRae left Glasgow with briefcases which were missing from the car when he was found.

Mr MacNichol also said the campaigners would investigate separate action such as judicial review if the petition was rejected by the Lord Advocate.

A spokesman for the Crown Office 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."