Page 34

Time to right a 265-yearold wrong


Stewart known as James of the Glen, was arrested instead on suspicion of being complicit in the murder.

resh insight into a shot that rang out in a remote Highland glen almost three centuries ago, and led to the death of an innocent man, continues to keep alive one of the country’s most enduring murder mysteries. The cold-blooded killing of Colin Campbell has become a legend in Scottish folklore, not least because it was immortalised by author Robert Louis Stevenson in the classic novel Kidnapped. For more than 260 years historians, crime experts and amateur sleuths around the world have been fascinated by the real-life whodunit which is far more intriguing than any fictional murder. After detailed and painstaking investigation of ancient legal documents, a distinguished historian has identified a new prime suspect in the murder of ‘The Red Fox’ and called on the government to right one of Scotland’s longest miscarriages of justice. The Stewarts of Appin had fought with the Jacobites in 1745 and after their defeat at Culloden their lands were confiscated and given to the Campbells as a reward for


Photo by Euan Nelson Lettermore wood

Photo by Euan Nelson Scene of crime

supporting the Hanoverian throne. So, when, on the morning of 14 May 1752 Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure was shot dead on the wooded slopes around Loch Linnhe, while going about his governmentappointed duties as Factor, suspicion immediately fell on the Stewarts. Chief suspect was a local firebrand by the name of Alan Breck Stewart. A huge manhunt failed to find Alan Breck so his foster-father, James

Tried by a jury made up of mostly Campbells the result of the court case, presided over by the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, came as no surprise. James was hanged in November 1752 and his body left to rot on the gibbet as an example to others. “I come from that area of the country and like most people I was always thought the killing had been carried out by one of the Stewarts of Appin,” said Alan MacInness, Emeritus Professor of History at Strathclyde University. But, after detailed examination of witness statements, ballistic evidence and trial documents Prof. MacInness is convinced James Stewart is innocent and that it wasn’t Alan Breck or any other member of the Stewart clan who killed Colin Campbell. “It was an inside job. The only person who had the opportunity, the means and the motive was the dead man’s nephew Mungo Campbell,” said Prof. MacInness.

Profile for Scotland Correspondent

Scotland Correspondent issue 5