By Angela Haggerty
Disgraced MSP Bill Walker could have his salary slashed by 90 per cent if he receives a prison sentence later this month following his conviction for domestic abuse crimes.
The 71-year-old is facing up to 12 months in jail after being convicted for attacks against his three ex-wives and a stepdaughter between 1967 and 1995 but has refused to step down from his position.
In a letter to MSPs, the Scottish parliament’s Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, outlined the Scottish Parliament corporate body’s (SPCB) proposals ahead of Walker’s sentencing.
“We recommend that 90 per cent of salary should be withheld for the duration of imprisonment,” she wrote.
“I shall therefore be seeking the parliamentary bureau’s agreement to bring forward a resolution before parliament next week to amend the salary scheme.
“In recommending this course of action to parliament, it should be made clear we do not seek to encroach upon the role of the courts. Our approach should in no way be interpreted as a punishment – that is for the courts.”
The SPCB recommended jailed MSPs keep a proportion of their salary because they may still be able to carry out some functions from prison. Although the issue has been highlighted by Walker’s case, it was stressed that if the proposals are accepted they would apply to any MSP in a similar position.Walker, who was described as “violent, domineering, controlling and relentless”, receives a basic salary of £58,097, which would be cut to just under £6,000 if the proposals are accepted by MSPs.
Under parliamentary rules, an MSP is only automatically expelled if imprisoned for more than a year and the Scottish Government would require Westminster’s approval to change the rule.
The Dunfermline MSP was a member of the SNP but was thrown out when the allegations emerged.
The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, launched an online petition calling for Walker’s resignation following his conviction, stating that people across Scotland were “rightly furious” that he would not stand down.
According to Mr Rennie, more than 90 MSPs have signed a motion for him to go.