The normal rule of thumb is that headlines ending in a question mark should be answered with a “no” – for example, “Does Sudoku Cause Cancer?” However, if Paul Hutcheon‘s story is true, as it surely is, the constituency office of the Deputy First Minister herself was told about Walker’s violent past more than three years before the unfortunate people of Dunfermline got saddled with him as their MSP.

When his past started to come out, I argued that the SNP didn’t do proper vetting on him, and SNP activists argued (reasonably, I concede) that if he’d kept it quiet there’s no obvious way for the party to have found out. That’s true: we don’t want parties to have to hire private investigators to look into candidates. But if a former brother-in-law of Walker had told Nicola Sturgeon’s own office about his unsavoury past, which the SNP’s quote admits, that’s that question answered. They knew because they were told, and they admit that the information went to head office.

If they’d been told in April 2011 I could almost understand not making a scene about it. Who wants to have to deselect a constituency candidate during an election? (Although obviously it would have still been wrong not to act) But February 2008? As with so many scandals, this one has become that which sensible politicians fear most: who knew what and when, and who covered up for the original offence? Incidentally, it’s extremely dangerous and ill-advised for the party to give an account of the meeting which can be disputed by the man who called it, Rob Armstrong.

Note: comments which make allegations against Walker which are not already in the media or which downplay domestic violence will not be approved.