HUMZA Yousaf is being urged by a key witness to ask the police to re-open the investigation into Willie McRae’s death following revelations by a nurse in the hospital where he was treated.

David Coutts was a friend of the lawyer and SNP activist and among the first people to arrive at the scene where his car was found crashed off a road in the Highlands.

He and another man helped a police officer and paramedic lift the critically injured McRae from his Volvo after it was found lying over a burn on a remote moor on April 6, 1985.

READ MORE: Nurse who treated Willie McRae: It wasn't suicide, he was shot

McRae, 61, was a high-profile campaigner against the nuclear industry, had left his flat in Glasgow the previous evening to drive to his cottage near Dornie to spend the Easter weekend.

Coutts made his appeal to the Justice Secretary as he supported the testimony given by an intensive care nurse in Aberdeen where McRae had been transferred to from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

He came forward after reading the account given by Katharine McGonigal in our sister paper the Sunday National at the weekend.

McGonigal, 56, disputed the official finding that McRae had died as a result of a gunshot to his right temple and that he had taken his own life. She said there was no bullet wound at that area of his head but there was a bullet wound at the back of his neck.

Coutts, 60, also stated there was no sign of a gun shot wound to his temple when he helped move his friend out of the car.

“The injuries to his forehead looked like someone had punched him a couple of times,” Coutts told The National. “There was some blood, but not a lot. It had coagulated just to the right of his right eye on the forehead.”

Asked if there was a sign of a bullet wound to his right temple, he said: “No, none at all. The doctor who was with me at the time later told me there was no danger he had shot himself as there would have been powder burns to his temple and there weren’t.

“It looks to me that the nurse has nailed the thing. She saw where the bullet went in and it wasn’t to his right temple.”

BACKGROUND: The bizarre mystery surrounding death of Willie McRae

Coutts was driving along the A87 Kyle of Lochalsh to Invergarry Road with his wife at the time and two friends, one the doctor, Dorothy Messer. He told The National he ran over to the car after they were flagged down by an Australian tourist who was the first to arrive at the scene.

“We couldn’t open the driver’s door as the car had fallen over on to its side. It was wedged in. If you tried to open it you couldn’t as there was heather and a burn. It was impossible,” he said. “We got in through the passenger side ... it took four of us to turn him around and get him out of the front passenger side.”

Coutts dismissed police suggestions the gun was found in the burn near the crashed car after it had fallen out when one of the rescuer’s opened a car door. He insisted no gun fell out of the car.

“We helped the policeman get Willie out of the car. When the policeman bent over to try and open the front [driver’s] door his hat fell into the burn below the car.” he said.

“I was on the other side of the car and I could see the hat fall. I had to go down quite far to retrieve his hat from the burn. If there was a gun there I would have seen it. The driver’s door never opened at the scene.”

He added: “There were a lot of things that didn’t happen that should have. No fingerprints were taken, a lot of the evidence has gone missing. There was no fatal accident inquiry.

“I think there has been enough new evidence brought to light that deserves Humza Yousaf to sit down and ask the police to re-open this case. I am writing to ask him to do so and also requesting a meeting with him.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was up to the Crown Office to re-open any probe, while a Crown Office spokesman has said it was satisfied with the outcome of inquiries to date and the inquiry was closed.

Mystery has persisted over McRae’s death. The authorities say forensic evidence and suggestions he suffered from depression and alcohol problems point to death by suicide. But a subsequent investigation by Winnie Ewing for the SNP was not satisfied with the finding.