Willie MacRae play bound for Portree


3000 Trees-3 A
Photograph: Mike Douglas/Colour Sharp Photography.



Playwright and actor Andy Paterson comes to Portree on April 16th and Farr Hall Inverness on 17th April with his one-man play — 3000 Trees: The Death of Mr William MacRae.

The play was a sell-out at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe The play is based on the death, in 1985, of SNP politician and anti-nuclear campaigner Willie MacRae who was found dying in his car on a lonely highland road with a single gunshot wound to the head.

It was believed by many at the time that MacRae’s death, far from being a suicide, was murder. If MacRae’s death was a suicide, the circumstances are bizarre to say the least. His car was found some distance from the road in what initially looked like a road traffic accident. MacRae was unconscious, his hands folded in his lap and the gun he had been shot with was later found some 60ft from the car. Documents and other items were missing from the car.

Theories abound. If MacRae shot himself – why pack a bag for a weekend at his holiday cottage? Those who saw him leave Glasgow on the weekend of his death describe his mood as upbeat – happy. Friends and colleagues find it difficult to believe that MacRae died by his own hand.

Andy Paterson’s one-man show sees MacRae himself reflect on the events leading up to his death. Was he under surveillance on the day he died? What happened to the dossier he was compiling on the Douneray nuclear plant?

MacRae had successfully led a legal challenge to stop nuclear waste being buried in the Ayrshire hills. A colourful and larger than life character, he had served in the Royal Indian Navy, was a gifted lawyer and stood for leadership of the SNP.

“I’ve been interested in the Willie MacRae case since I worked as a journalist in the 1990s’, says Mr Paterson, who runs theatre company Teatro Magnetico and is pictured above during a performance. “Nothing about the way Willie died adds-up to his death being a suicide. There are many theories around as to who may have killed Willie – he was investigating the nuclear industry and NATO in Scotland, as well as the illegal drugs trade. “More recently it has come to light that Willie had compiled a dossier on senior paedophiles in the legal establishment and at Westminster. So far no copy of this has been found, but it was known to exist at the time of his death.”

The highland performances come on the tail of the 30th anniversary of MacRae’s passing. A petition was being launched on 6th April to ask for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the lawyer’s death.

The play takes place in Tigh na Sgire at 7.30pm.