I WOULD like to add a couple of peripheral comments to Hamish MacPherson’s pieces on the Stone of Destiny (How the Stone Raiders won the hearts of Scots, The National, February 27).

When Ian Hamilton was looking for a team to repossess the Stone of Destiny, one of the first persons he approached was a fellow student, Jimmy Halliday. He declined but regretted it for the rest of his life (Halliday was chairman of the SNP from 1956 to 1960, and chairman of the Scots Independent newspaper until his death in January 2013). When the police were seeking Ian Hamilton, he was hiding out in Jimmy’s flat.

Some time during the seventies I was chairman of the Edinburgh District Association of the SNP. There was going to be a Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh and the SNP was mounting an exhibition. There had been an article in the press about a copy of the Stone of Destiny in Dundee, so I was tasked with seeing if we could borrow it.

I turned up one Saturday evening at the manse of St Columba’s Church of Scotland. The minister, Rev John Mackay Nimmo, greeted me cordially. He told me that the stone they had was not a facsimile but the Stone that had been retrieved by Ian Hamilton. He had been given it by the Glasgow stonemason, Bertie Gray, a former Progressive Baillie on Glasgow City Council, the man who had hidden and repaired the Stone, and who had said he was to keep it and hand it over to the first Scottish Government after independence.

I never met Bertie Gray, but had seen a TV interview he had given. When asked if the correct Stone had been returned, he said, eyes twinkling: “Do I look like the kind o’ lad that would gie them back the richt Stane?”

Rev Nimmo was not able to accede to our request, but as the SNP annual conference was being held in Dundee that year he said he would open the church so delegates could visit it. I do not know how many did, but my youngest son and I did go.

St Columba’s Church was demolished and I do not know the whereabouts of the Stone. I heard vaguely that it had been handed over to the Knights Templar, an organisation I am not familiar with, presumably as Bertie Gray and John Mackay Nimmo were members.

During the 1983 General Election I was the SNP candidate for Dundee West, and I met a man who said that as a policeman he had driven the car that uplifted the Stone from Arbroath.

Hamish’s comment that the Stone would be better in Perth is extremely valid; the castle is getting more than two million visitors a year and the Stone is overshadowed by the Crown Jewels.

Jim Lynch

I WAS absolutely delighted to read the article by Bridget Morris, “Glen Scotia distillery to go on world tour” (The National, February 27). No doubt the inhabitants of the Wee Toon, as Campbeltown is affectionately known, will wish the distillery every success with their coming venture!

Several years ago they kindly consented to allow the local antiquarian society to erect a plaque on their front wall to the memory of Burns’s Highland Mary. She spent her childhood and adolescence living close by the site of the distillery before moving to employment in Ayrshire, where she met and became betrothed to Robert Burns. She died at Greenock “from a malignant fever” in 1786, before their planned marriage could take place.

The distillery, on the erection of the plaque, mentioned that they might, in due course, name one of their future whiskies after Highland Mary. Throughout the 19th century her name was widely celebrated as the heroine-in-chief among the numerous amours of Burns, and a Cult of Mariolatry reached absurd and ridiculous acclaim, with a statue to her being erected in Buckingham Palace. Alas, it all fell asunder amid a malicious slander against her reputation; however that, as they say, is another story!

Norrie Paton

APPARENTLY the “intelligent virtual assistants’ that Scottish firm Speech Graphics are developing have previously “negatively impacted customer experience because they lack emotion” (Scots firm to lead boom in virtual assistants, The National, February 27). To solve this problem apparently requires “expertise in voice networking, visualisation, emotional analytics and speech technology”. Alternatively, you could just employ a few more human assistants, who generally have these skills inbuilt by the manufacturer. I know who I’d prefer to deal with!

Mary Brown