The murder of the “Red Fox” Colin Campbell in 1752 has been solved and a formal apology must be issued to the innocent man wrongly accused, according to one historian.
The story is one the most fascinating in Scottish history and is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s most enduring miscarriages of justice, The Herald reports.
James Stewart, “James of the Glens”, was sentenced to death and hanged for the murder of Colin Campbell in 1752.
But Professor Allan MacInnes of Strathclyde University said that “The Red Fox” was killed by his own nephew Mungo, who shot his uncle to gain his job and fulfil his own ambitions.
When Colin Campbell was murdered in 1752, the fearful government blamed a Jacobite conspiracy however the Professor MacInnes believes that his death was “an inside job”.
Mr Campbell, 44, was the factor of numerous estates and his job was to collect taxes from clan leaders. The Campbells were loyal to the Hanoverian monarchy and unpopular amongst pro-Jacobite families who had fought with Charles Edward Stewart, the Bonnie Prince.
After the murder, Mungo Campbell inherited his uncle’s lucrative post.
He was, however, “a nutter”, according to Professor McInnes.
He said the Scottish government should issue a formal pardon to James of the Glen: “[Mungo] was a very difficult, very ambitious and ruthless man.
“Whereas, I think James [Stewart] of the Glen was, you have to say, partial to a strong drink, he was a decent, God-fearing man, a typical Highlander in a sense, but Mungo was a nutter.
“He exploited the tensions here.
“It was the heartland of Jacobitism in Scotland and if anything went wrong here, the government was going to blame the Jacobites, and they did. They immediately said it was the Jacobites.”
At the time, the trial was presided over by the Duke of Argyll, one of the main pro-government figures in Scotland and the jury consisted of 11 members of the Campbell family.
Professor MacInnes said: “What [the government] did was to privatise the case, they gave it to the Campbells to solve the case, so it was perfect for Mungo. He was there, helping solve the case, beating up prisoners, forcing out confessions, taking the case away from him.”
Professor MacInnnes added: “When an innocent man has been hanged for something he has had not dealings in, I don’t think a pardon is inappropriate.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said that while elements of the trial “appear to have been questionable”, a Royal Pardon could only be justified where evidence clearly exonerates Stewart.