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Bill Walker resignation: MSP convicted of wife-beating is still in denial, ex-wife claims

‘Great relief’ as former SNP politician quits Scottish Parliament ahead of sentencing

An ex-wife of the disgraced politician Bill Walker has spoken of her “great relief” that the convicted wife-beater has resigned his seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Anne Gruber said Walker’s attempts to cling on to his position at Holyrood were an “outrage” and had put his  victims under “tremendous stress”.

The former Scottish Nationalist, convicted last month of domestic abuse attacks against three ex-wives and a stepdaughter over three decades, bowed to pressure on Saturday and stood down as MSP for Dunfermline. The 71-year-old said a “media onslaught” had made it impossible to continue as an MSP.

Ms Gruber said on Sunday: “Bill Walker’s, albeit belated, decision to stand down as an MSP, comes as a great relief to me and, I’m sure, all of his victims. He cites the ordeal he has endured, but gave no thought to the tremendous stress he put on his victims by his continuous and ongoing denial of his abusive behaviour.”

Walker, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, was expelled from the Scottish National Party in 2012 when the charges emerged, but remained in his seat as an independent. He is due to be sentenced this month after being found guilty of 23 counts of domestic abuse between 1967 and 1995.

A spokesman for Walker said the politician believed “one woman scorned was joined by another woman scorned”, and added that Walker planned to appeal.

Ms Gruber rejected Walker’s protestations in a statement to BBC Scotland, saying: “He still maintains his innocence, citing such things as a smear campaign and a vendetta. Nothing could be further from  the truth – there were none of these, merely the outrage that we all felt that someone of his calibre could be allowed to represent people in the Scottish Parliament.”

Ms Gruber said there was no motivation of revenge among the victims, but suggested that for the first time in his life Walker had perhaps “buckled under pressure”.

Opposition parties called on the SNP to hold an independent inquiry, saying it had been aware of allegations against Walker.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Removing Bill Walker from the Parliament was the priority. But now that he’s gone, I am requesting the SNP commission an independent-led inquiry into these events and their internal processes.”

Labour’s Graeme Pearson said: “The SNP had the knowledge to stop a now convicted wife-beater from entering our Parliament. They didn’t. We need to know why.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Knowing what is now known about Bill Walker, we all wish that he had been prevented from becoming an SNP candidate.”