Dun­blane ‘cover-up’ ac­cu­sa­tions dis­cussed

● Au­to­matic 100-year clo­sure rule ap­plied to po­lice re­ports led to ‘strong pub­lic per­cep­tion’ that in­for­ma­tion was be­ing hid­den

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By AN­GUS HOWARTH

Of­fi­cial pa­pers re­leased to­day re­veal how gov­ern­ment min­is­ters dis­cussed the need to “close down” a pub­lic per­cep­tion of a cover-up sur­round­ing the Dun­blane mas­sacre.

A 100-year ban ap­plied to po­lice re­ports from 1991 cov­ered in­ves­ti­ga­tions into in­ci­dents of al­leged abuse at a sum­mer camp run by Thomas Hamil­ton, who killed 16 pri­mary school chil­dren and their teacher in 1996.

Spec­u­la­tion emerged that the re­ports linked the mass mur­derer with mem­bers of the Scot­tish Es­tab­lish­ment.

Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters dis­cussed the need to “close down” the pub­lic per­cep­tion of a cover-up over the Dun­blane mas­sacre, of­fi­cial pa­pers re­veal.

Thomas Hamil­ton shot and killed 16 pri­mary school pupils and their teacher in the gym hall of Dun­blane Pri­mary School on 13 March, 1996, be­fore turn­ing the gun on him­self.

A pub­lic in­quiry was held into the mas­sacre, led by Lord Cullen, and a cam­paign led by be­reaved par­ents re­sulted in a hand­gun ban.

Newly-re­leased Scot­tish Ex­ec­u­tive pa­pers from 2003 show that Scot­tish min­is­ters dis­cussed a wish to shut down views of a cover-up in con­nec­tion with the 100-year clo­sure rule ap­plied to po­lice re­ports on Hamil­ton. That ban cov­ered po­lice re­ports from 1991, in­ves­ti­gat­ing in­ci­dents of al­leged abuse at a sum­mer camp run by Hamil­ton.

Spec­u­la­tion emerged that the re­ports linked the mass mur­derer with mem­bers of the Scot­tish Es­tab­lish­ment.

Ex­tracts pub­lished dur­ing the Cullen In­quiry showed a 1991 po­lice re­port rec­om­mended Hamil­ton should be pros­e­cuted for his ac­tiv­i­ties at the sum­mer camp and have his gun li­cence re­voked, but no fur­ther ac­tion was taken.

The Cabi­net min­utes from Fe­bru­ary 2003 state: “The Lord Ad­vo­cate said the 100 years clo­sure to the po­lice re­ports on Thomas Hamil­ton had been ap­plied in or­der to pro­tect the chil­dren con­cerned and their si­b­lings.

“If the doc­u­ments were re­leased ear­lier into the pub­lic do­main, there would be a pos­si­bil­ity that in­di­vid­u­als who were still alive could be iden­ti­fied.

“The doc­u­ments had, how­ever, been made avail­able in full to the Dun­blane In­quiry.”

They con­tin­ued: “There was a strong pub­lic per­cep­tion of a cover-up. A 100 years clo­sure seemed in­com­pre­hen­si­bly lengthy to the pub­lic … What mat­tered was to close the story down.”

The pa­pers con­tin­ued: “Re­leas­ing a sani­tised form of the re­port would be more dif­fi­cult than gen­er­ally thought and ad­min­is­tra­tively costly.

“Do­ing so might not be suf­fi­cient to sat­isfy con­cerns.

“One al­ter­na­tive might be to in­di­cate that the pa­pers had been re­viewed by an in­de­pen­dent per­son who could as­sure the pub­lic that they did not con­tain the kind of ref­er­ences which had been sug­gested.”

In 2005, then Lord Ad­vo­cate Colin Boyd lifted the re­stric­tion on some doc­u­ments closed un­der the 100-year rule fol­low­ing pres­sure from fam­i­lies of some of the vic­tims.

The Scot­tish Of­fice, the Crown Of­fice and Lord Cullen had pre­vi­ously agreed that some in­for­ma­tion should be kept con­fi­den­tial for 100 years to avoid it caus­ing dis­tress to the vic­tims or their si­b­lings.

The Crown Of­fice de­nied that the de­ci­sion was made to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of pub­lic fig­ures in­volved in the in­quiry and the con­tro­versy over Hamil­ton’s ac­cess to firearms and back­ground work­ing with chil­dren.

In 2018, it emerged a mil­i­tary board­ing school with al­leged links to Hamil­ton is to be in­ves­ti­gated by the Scot­tish Child Abuse In­quiry.

Queen Vic­to­ria School was one of 17 ad­di­tional in­sti­tu­tions to be in­cluded in the na­tional in­quiry led by judge Lady Smith.

The Dun­blane school, which serves the fam­i­lies of mil­i­tary per­son­nel, had pre­vi­ously been linked to Hamil­ton.

Last year, Glen Har­ri­son, a for­mer house­mas­ter, claimed pupils were abused by a pae­dophile ring at the school in the 1980s and 1990s. He said he first raised his con­cerns with po­lice in 1991.

Scot­tish Cabi­net min­is­ters were told the UK Depart­ment of Health was in­ves­ti­gat­ing a claim of know­ingly sup­ply­ing con­tam­i­nated blood, newly re­leased files from 2003 show.

Of­fi­cial doc­u­ments show Scot­land’s then health min­is­ter Mal­colm Chisholm telling the Cabi­net of the Scot­tish Ex­ec­u­tive at a meet­ing in Oc­to­ber 2003 there were two cur­rent is­sues re­lat­ing to the con­tam­i­nated blood scan­dal – rec­om­men­da­tions for com­pen­sa­tions lev­els and the claim the con­tam­i­nated blood and know­ingly been sup­plied.

Thou­sands of peo­ple across the UK in the 1970s and 1980s were given blood prod­ucts in­fect-

Blood sup­ply claims were in­ves­ti­gated and pay­outs to vic­tims dis­cussed in 2003

By Laura Pater­son

0 Ter­ror­ism, racist at­tacks on Mus­lims, fluc­tu­at­ing oil prices and tourism is­sues were all con­sid­ered pos­si­ble ef­fects on Scot­land af­ter West­min­ster’s de­ci­sion to go to war in Iraq

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