Mail on Sunday
Sun, 16 Feb 2003 13:26 CST
THE full extent of a secret dossier compiled on Dunblane killer Thomas Hamilton is revealed in the Mail on Sunday today.
A 100-year closure order has been placed on a catalogue of evidence relating to Hamilton's activities in the years preceding the massacre of 16 children and a teacher at Dunblane Primary School in 1996.
The extraordinary ban on evidence means the public has no access to reports into:
. Police investigations and allegations of abuse at boys' camps and boys' clubs run by Hamilton.
. Hamilton's links with Freemasonry.
. Reports about the killer's use and possession of firearms.
Families of Dunblane victims may call for a new inquiry following proof that most of the documents banned from the public domain until 2096 are subject to an illegal closure order.
The secret reports held at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh were presented to the 1996 Dunblane public inquiry as 'productions' but were not heard as evidence and never entered the public domain.
Officially, they were placed under the maximum closure order of 100 years to protect the identity of children abused by Hamilton.
But the Mail on Sunday has obtained the master catalogue of documents and it raises questions about the need for secrecy.
Among items protected are apparently innocuous documents relating to the layout of the school, a report into Hamilton's financial circumstances, a sample firearms training questionnaire and even a copy of safety guidelines for janitorial staff.
There has been much speculation that the material was hidden from public view to protect prominent figures who may have had involvement with Hamilton and his firearms licence applications.
Campaigners now say there is an overwhelming need to make public the majority of documents, which do not relate to children who complained of physical or sexual abuse.
Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, QC, is under pressure to lift the 100-year secrecy order placed on the extensive archive, after the ban was challenged by SNP deputy justice spokesman Michael Matheson.
The Mail on Sunday can now reveal the bulk of the secret papers bears no relation to evidence of children allegedly abused by Hamilton u the reason given for their closure by the Crown Office.
Father-of-two John Crozier, who lost his five-year-old daughter Emma at Dunblane, said: 'It shocks me that there are people who would want to cover up any wrongdoings.
It is extraordinary that things like this would be locked up for 100 years. It does not make sense.' The Mail on Sunday has now learnt that many of the documents are being kept secret illegally. Dr Peter Anderson, Deputy Keeper of Records, confirmed the Public Records Act of 1958, under which Lord Cullen made the Dunblane closure order, does not apply to an inquiry which is 'wholly or mainly concerned with Scottish affairs'.
Public access campaigner and retired businessman William Scott, 72, of Edinburgh, said: 'It is important there is no cover-up, particularly in relation to prominent figures and the role they may have played.
'There is a strong feeling that decisions were taken within the police, by the procurator fiscal and Crown Office, and it looks like names have been protected other than those of children.' Among documents banned from public view until 2096 are copies of police reports regarding complaints against Hamilton and his running of sports clubs and of a summer camp at Millarochy Bay, Loch Lomond in July 1991.
Ten files relate to Hamilton's dealings with local authorities including Fife, Lothian and Strathclyde, while there are four volumes concerning the gunman's complaints about the conduct of police investigations, and seven volumes on his use and possession of firearms.
Witness statements by scene of crime officer Malcolm Chisholm and Detective Constable Donald Scobie, and a transcript of an answering-machine tape which accidentally recorded conversation between police officers at the school, are closed to public access.
Key correspondence between Lothian Regional Council, Strathclyde Police and the Dumbarton procurator fiscal concerning Hamilton's activities in 1989-1990 is similarly closed.
So is a letter by Hamilton to Michael Forsyth, MP for Stirling and Secretary of State for Scotland, complaining his boy's clubs in Dunfermline had closed due to ' overzealous police officers from Central Scotland Police, obsessed with child abuse, in carrying out their failed pervert hunt using unfair tactics'.
Also closed to the public is the correspondence from the clerk to the 1996 inquiry regarding possible affiliations of Hamilton with Freemasonry, accompanied by copies of letters from Hamilton.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal Justice Minister Jim Wallace is to consider evidence of Freemason links to the Dunblane inquiry along with a petition from former businessman Tom Minogue for a full register of organisations such as Freemasons within the judiciary.
The Assistant Grand Secretary of Freemasons, Norman MacLeod, has stated there is no record of Hamilton being a Freemason.
The Scottish Executive has asked Scotland's most senior law officer, Colin Boyd, QC, to find a way to lift the ban on most of the documents.