THE Crown Office is being called upon by a former Scottish Government minister to instruct Police Scotland to conduct a “cold case” review into the death of the high profile lawyer Willie McRae.

Senior SNP MSP Alex Neil, who has served as Social Justice Secretary, said new information merited the specialist team to examine the case.

He told The National: “The circumstances surrounding Willie McRae’s death have been surrounded in mystery for the last 30 odd years.

“And I think there is case for the cold cases unit of Police Scotland to re-open the inquiry into the circumstances around his death.”

McRae, 61, was found injured in his crashed car off a remote road in the Highlands in April, 1985. Police initially believed he had been hurt in a road accident but it later emerged he had suffered a gunshot wound to his head. He died the following day with the official cause of death said to be suicide.

But concerns over the inquiry persisted and were reignited last month when a nurse who worked in the Aberdeen hospital where McRae died came forward for the first time and disputed the location given by the police of the bullet wound.

She said the wound was at the back of McRae’s neck and not on the right temple as the police said – meaning he may have been murdered rather than taking his own life.

Now an interview given by McRae’s GP brother Fergie in 2006 has come to light in which he indicates the wound was at the back of his neck. Fergie McRae said he examined his brother’s head while he was with him in hospital.

“The emerging evidence particularly from the nurse confirming what his brother said many years ago that he was shot in the back of the neck contradicts the public version of events from the police and Crown Office at the time which said he was shot in the temple,” added Neil. “Clearly these are totally contradictory.”

He continued: “There are other issues around the death which have already been raised publicly. Winnie Ewing carried out an investigation and met with a blockade at the time from the Crown Office and the police.

“At the time Winnie said she wasn’t convinced it was suicide. She didn’t go any further than it and it might well be that it was suicide. But there is so much mystery and contradictory information there is a strong case for the cold case unit at Police Scotland to investigate the circumstances of his death and if there are any suspicious circumstances it is then taken forward as an investigation as appropriate.”

The cold case unit of Police Scotland was set up in 2011 by former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland to tackle unsolved murders and other serious crimes.

Mulholland said the specialist officers would review unsolved cases to identify those which merit a fresh investigation. New forensic techniques, including DNA, improved ballistics and fingerprint databases are used. The murder of Greenock school girl Elaine Doyle in 1986 was the first case to be solved by the unit with John Docherty convicted in 2014.

Detective Chief Inspector David Pinkney said: “Police Scotland can confirm following a thorough investigation into the death of Willie McRae on April 6, 1985, there were no suspicious circumstances and, as with all sudden deaths, a report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

“Reviews by Northern Constabulary and the Crown Office into the matter in 2010/11 did not bring raise any new matters.

“Police Scotland remains satisfied that the investigation was conducted thoroughly and the case was concluded once the report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

“Any further information or evidence reported to Police Scotland on any case will be always be considered.”

A Crown Office spokesman said: “Crown Counsel are satisfied with the extensive investigations into the death of William McRae and the case is now closed.”