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updated October 2005

THE DUNBLANE SHOOTINGS AND GUN LAW

On the 13th. March 1996, Thomas Hamilton (43) walked into Dunblane Primary School armed with 4 legally held weapons. In the space of 3 minutes he shot 3 staff and 28 pupils. Of these 1 staff member died and 16 children were killed.

For parents, police, Government ministers and the gun lobby the question is whether the private ownership of handguns should be banned. A variety of views are held.

THE PARENTS VIEW :
Michael North, whose daughter Sophie was killed at Dunblane, wrote the following comments in the Sunday Times [13.10.96]

"It is time to turn the tide against gun culture. Hand-guns were designed for one purpose only -to kill. They weren't banned after Hungerford because of the pressure of the gun lobby. Public safety was sacrificed to preserve a privilege for a minority who have had a disproportionate influence on our law-makers. Campaigning for a total ban on hand-guns will ensure that this country becomes a safer place."

THE POLICE VIEW :
Tough action on guns is urged by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which supports banning people from owning hand-guns other than .22 single-shot weapons.

THE GOVERNMENT VIEW :

John Major was deeply affected by his visit to the scene of the ~Dunblane shootings.
Michael Forsyth, the Scottish Secretary (whose constituency includes Dunblane), argues for a ban on privately owned hand-guns except .22 single-shot sporting pistols.
Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, noted the difficulties of imposing restrictions ( compare this with the similar problem of combat knives).

THE GUN LOBBY :
The powerful gun lobby have argued that the Dunblane and Hungerford incidents are isolated incidents; that a ban would not stop a psychopath from acquiring a weapon. Equally, a ban would deprives 100's of thousands of the pleasure of shooting. The gun lobby argue that there is a lack of evidence to show that licensed weapons are used in violent crimes.

FIGURES :

1994 - 1996 = 196 MURDERS AND MANSLAUGHTERS IN BRITAIN.
Nearly 50 % of domestic killings were with legally held weapons.
Nearly 20 % of homicidal killings were with legally held weapons.



Sunday 2nd October 2005 Update

The article below was taken from the Scotland on Sunday: Sun 2 Oct 2005. It is largely self explanatory but I fear our masters have not released all  - I shall see what the next few days brings and if necessary provide a  helping hand.



Mick North, the father of one victim, has seen the files.

Dunblane: files show police flaws

By MARCELLO MEGA

SECRET files on the Dunblane massacre that are finally opened to the public tomorrow will confirm incompetence among police and prosecutors, but demolish widespread claims of conspiracy and cover-up.

The father of one of the victims has already been given access to the files, which he says prove that police failed to take proper action against  Thomas Hamilton despite numerous separate incidents that were cause for  concern.

Dr Mick North, whose only daughter Sophie was one of the 16 children murdered with their teacher in March 1996, examined all 106 files which  were originally "closed" for 100 years but will be open to inspection from tomorrow.

North says the papers explain away several sensational theories about the killings, including one suggestion that police officers had been tipped  off that Hamilton was about to go on a rampage. The truth, he says, is that off-duty officers were simply dropping off their own children at the  school.


But North concludes that the "arrogant" decision to try to lock away the papers for a century fuelled many wild and hurtful theories.

The thousands of documents were viewed by North in the Crown Office HQ in Edinburgh and include thousands of pages of police and witness  statements, medical reports and autopsy examinations.

North said: "The documents I viewed in many ways confirmed what I already believed I knew about the role of the police and the involvement of the procurator fiscal service."

Hamilton's behaviour in the years before the massacre caused great concern and the documents prove a lack of joined-up thinking among police and prosecutors.

North said: "You have a situation where a number of reports are being received by the police of behaviour towards children that is worrying,  and these reports outline similar types of behaviour.

"Yet every incident was viewed in isolation. Someone was behaving inappropriately, repeatedly showing aggression towards children, and the margins of the system were not flexible enough to allow the matter to be investigated properly."

North's examination of the documents has also reinforced his concerns about the Cullen Inquiry into the massacre itself. "One of the clearest conclusions I can draw from the vast quantity of documents I viewed is  that the inquiry did nothing to address this key point: how should society  deal with an individual like Hamilton?" he said.

"Too often the inquiry appeared as a process run by the Establishment largely for the benefit of the Establishment in an attempt to minimise damage and to reassure the public that there was not too much to worry about. Yet the arrogant decision to hide these documents away has left a festering sore that has never healed."

 North also says the documents prove that police misled the inquiry about when parents were told their children had died.

"Parents of the children who died were not informed until 2:30pm at the earliest, yet the police said the time was 1:30pm. It's impossible to  know why this discrepancy occurred because it was not examined, but it's inexcusable because the same documents reveal all the identifications  were complete by 1pm.

"In fact, I learned that by 10.20pm staff had identified about half of the children, yet it seems a decision was made that their parents should not  be informed until the process was complete.

"There was no explanation of that. Presumably it was for operational reasons in that it made their job easier, but it was not necessarily in our interests."

Despite his concerns, North insists the documents laid to rest many of the conspiracy theories around the shooting.

One of the most persistent was the suggestion that Hamilton received favours from friends in the Central Scotland Police force that enabled him to  keep his gun licence.

North said that while Hamilton had friends in the force, the documents he had viewed did not suggest they had provided significant support to him.

One officer acknowledged Hamilton was in the habit of contacting him to "discuss matters he [Hamilton] feels are important" and to inform him  where and when his youth camps would take place, but insisted there was no  more than that to their relationship.

He added: "One of the most striking things about the documents was the voluminous correspondence Hamilton entered into, particularly with the police. He wrote incessantly to senior officers and to politicians and copied them in on letters to others.

Considerable interest has also centred on the presence of an off-duty police officer at the school at the time of the shootings and about the fact he  was never identified or called to give evidence when he played a significant part in the immediate aftermath.

Conspiracy theorists have suggested the police were tipped off that an armed man was heading for the school and that officers were dispatched - and  even that Hamilton had not taken his own life but was shot by the police.

North said the truth was far simpler. "There were actually two off-duty officers at the school, simply because they were dropping their own  children at the nursery, which didn't start until 9.30am. One of them left and returned home, although he went back almost immediately on hearing there  had been an incident to check his child was safe.

"The other officer was elsewhere in the school when he heard the disturbance. Understandably, he went to see what had happened and was  one of the first people into the gym.

"He saw the janitor kick a gun lying close to Hamilton's body away from him and called to him not to move anything else as he understood the  importance of preserving the scene."

Doubts have also been expressed about the manner of Hamilton's death, but North said the forensic pathologist's report leaves no room for doubt  that Hamilton took his own life with a single shot.

It has also been suggested that Hamilton was part of a paedophile ring, supplying his photographs of scantily clad boys to fellow members, and  that some might have been police officers. North said the documents contained  no evidence of such activity.

North said: "I do realise that some might feel I've fallen hook, line and sinker for the official version of events.

"But having seen the entire collection of files, I believe it would have been impossible to fillet out selected documents so successfully without  the gaps becoming obvious to a careful reader. There simply is no evidence  of any conspiracy to prevent the truth emerging or to protect any  individual."

North, who would have been celebrating Sophie's 15th birthday today, said: "I hope lessons have been learned, about how society should deal with someone in a community who behaves persistently in an alarming manner,  and about how a public inquiry should treat those directly involved in a tragedy.

"It was arrogant in the extreme to hide these papers away for 100 years without consulting those of us most closely affected. Our interest did  not cease because Lord Cullen had written his report.

"I realise that some questions do remain, but I am satisfied that nothing untoward contributed to that. There seems little point in continuing to  bang our heads off a brick wall. It is time to put the matter to rest."


Sunday, 9 February, 2003, 16:17 GMT BBC NEWS

Dunblane report inquiry call
Floral tribute outside Dunblane School after the shooting
       Floral tribute after Dunblane massacre

Scotland's most senior law officer is being urged to explain why a police report on the Dunblane massacre was allegedly banned from being published for 100 years.

An MSP called on Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC to comment on Sunday newspaper claims it was suppressed because it revealed links between Thomas Hamilton and a number of prominent Scots.

Picture shows Michael Matheson, the MSP for Central Scotland


The SNP's Central Scotland MSP Michael Matheson (left) wants the ban reconsidered in light of the new freedom of information legislation.

Picture of Lord Advocate - Colin Boyd

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd - to hear call for review
                                                           
Forty-three-year-old Thomas Hamilton, broke into Dunblane primary school on 13 March 1996 and opened fire on a class in the gym, killing 16 children and a teacher.  In addition to those killed, he injured 12 other children and two teachers before killing himself.  Mr Matheson said he sought clarification from the Lord Advocate whether the report was classified to protect the identities of children Hamilton is alleged to have abused.

'Kept secret'
"There is also a suggestion that the report may be being kept secret in order to protect a couple of well-known individuals who had an association with Thomas Hamilton.
"The other question I'm raising is whether it's appropriate for this 100-year ruling to apply given that we have now moved to a system of freedom of information."

Mr Matheson said he would consult Scotland's future Freedom of Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion over the ban's legitimacy.  He said: "It really is a question of whether it's appropriate that this kind of ruling should be being made given that we're meant to be in a free society."

The MSP would not comment on the identity of the people allegedly mentioned in the report.  A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said it was extremely unlikely that access would be given to anyone when the identification of child victims was at risk.



Robertson sues over Dunblane killer allegations


By Dan McDougall

LORD Robertson has started a landmark legal action against a Scottish newspaper over internet allegations falsely accusing him of helping Thomas Hamilton, the Dunblane killer, obtain his gun licence.

The secretary general of NATO has lodged a writ with the Court of Session in Edinburgh demanding £200,000 compensation over the claims, plus the full costs of the action.

The writ claims that comments posted on the message board of the Sunday Herald newspaper’s website, accusing him of signing a firearms certificate recommendation for Hamilton and using his influence to force the police to ignore their suspicions about the killer, were "false and calumnious".

Lord Robertson, the former defence secretary, also claims the allegations could hinder his chances of finding another job when he stands down as the head of NATO later this year.

The comments made on the website on 9 February were prompted by an on-line discussion forum for readers relating to public concern that certain documents relating to the Dunblane massacre of March 1996 were to remain classified for 100 years.

Under the headline: "Should the Dunblane dossier be kept secret?", the newspaper website invited readers to comment on speculation that prominent Scots were closely linked to Hamilton, asking: "Is the secrecy a smokescreen?"

An allegation was posted on the board by a reader incorrectly claiming that the then Mr Robertson had signed a firearms certificate recommendation because he was Thomas Hamilton’s MP.

Mr Robertson actually represented Hamilton South, was never Thomas Hamilton’s MP and never signed such a document.

The writ says that a second message posted by a different reader said: "As for that Robertson bloke! Never did trust him. How did he get that job as head of NATO?" Another contributor claimed: "People are being protected here."

In his writ, Lord Robertson claims that due to a lack of website policing, the offending comments remained on the newspaper’s internet message board for more than three weeks and were read by an estimated 600,000 people before they were removed.

It is not known if the identity of the individuals who made the statements will be made public but they are alleged to be registered users of the Sunday Herald message board. The newspaper refused to comment.

Lord Robertson’s representative, Martin Smith, a leading libel lawyer, was unavailable for comment. Lord Robertson’s spokesman at NATO said: "It is a private matter."

In 1996, Mr Robertson told Lord Cullen’s public inquiry into the Dunblane massacre that he became concerned about Hamilton’s militaristic camps after his own son attended Dunblane Rovers, a boys’ club run by Hamilton, in 1983. He spoke of his fears to Michael Forsyth, the MP for Stirling (where Hamilton lived) and the Scottish secretary at the time of the massacre.

Mr Robertson kept him informed about Hamilton’s clubs, sending documents highlighting parents’ concerns. These documents are banned from public view under Lord Cullen’s 100-year rule.

There has yet to be a test case in Scotland of whether a company is responsible for information posted on internet message boards. Gordon Deane, a partner in commercial litigation with Shepherd & Wedderburn, said: "The nature of the internet means documents published and uploaded in one country can be viewed and downloaded all over the world, exposing publishers to the libel laws of potentially any nation which provides internet access."



Cullen Inquiry Whitewash


Billy Burns recently petitioned the Scottish Parliament to open up to the public Lord Cullen’s 100-year Closure Order on files in relation to his pseudo-inquiry into the Dunblane massacre. (http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/petitions/public/index.htm listed at PE652)

Billy’s own correspondence was included in the order. Burns comments: “Lord Cullen can elicit little sympathy from the public for the way he conducted his inquiry into the Dunblane massacre in 1996.

 I wrote to him on 27 February 2003 after a prominent Sunday Times journalist brought it to my attention that my correspondence with the ‘Cullen Inquiry’ before, during and after it commenced, had been put on a 100-year closure order, along with 105 other files.

“It was claimed that the reason the ‘gagging order’ was put in place was to protect the names of children who were victims of sex-abuse. Lord Cullen at the time of the Inquiry said there was no evidence of child sex-abuse, but now, seven years after his Inquiry, he has used the fact that there was evidence of child sex-abuse to try to justify his unwarranted 'gagging order’.

"This just did not wash with me. My letters to him did not mention a single name of a child sex-abuse victim - for I did not know any names. My letters dealt strictly with the potential, then actual Masonic cover-up, keeping in mind the many reports at the time that the mass killer, Thomas Hamilton, was a Freemason.

“I asked Lord Cullen to recuse himself if he was a Freemason. He denied he was a Mason following the question posed. I then asked him to instruct every witness to the Inquiry to declare if they were Masons, because too many sinister loopholes were created for Thomas Hamilton over a number of years to enable him to retain his gun licence and continue running boys clubs. Hamilton was given this seal of approval despite many misgivings from worried members of the public, certain police officers and others.

"As it happened, Lord Cullen did not recuse himself, even though, as I have recently discovered, he is numbered 1702 on the membership list of the ‘Speculative Society of Edinburgh’, which is an exclusive off-shoot of Freemasonry. In fact, Masons from Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2, founded the “Speculative Society” in Edinburgh in 1764.

"As the inquiry got under way, “Spec” member Lord Cullen did not ask any witnesses whether they were Masons or not, thereby digging a hole deeper and deeper for himself as his Inquiry actually regressed.

"When I learned of the 100-year 'gagging order', I wrote to Lord Cullen, demanded his resignation from the judiciary. He had been promoted to the Lord Presidency for his sins, the top law lord in the country. After receiving my letter, it was reported he was to be moved to the House of Lords. I had no intention of allowing him to take refuge in the Lords so I wrote a letter to him, addressing the envelope to the Judicial Department in the Lords, so that employees in that department were fully aware of the scandal surrounding the Dunblane cover-up. Since sending that letter, his elevation has been shelved to prevent his dirty (white)washing begriming the red benches."

“The only satisfactory way to now appease the relatives and friends of the victims of the massacre and of the child abuse - and, indeed, to appease the entire Scottish people who have all been excluded from the fundamental rights of citizenship as a result of the pseudo-inquiry - is to conduct a brand new inquiry under the auspices of a cross party panel of MSP's and nominated lay members whose lives were touched by the massacre. The same panel must also conduct a full-scale Inquiry into Lord Cullen's status and behaviour before, during and after his risible inquiry, and into his placing of the 100-year 'gagging order' on the evidence.

“As a consequence of my letter to Lord Cullen, asking him to resign, my name and address were summarily airbrushed from the already inaccurate description of the file held by the National Archives of Scotland. After I wrote a letter of complaint to them, it was changed again and now has the following more accurate description:

'1996 Apr-Jul Additional Productions
Correspondence between William Burns, South Queensferry, and Lord Cullen and the Clerk to the Inquiry concerning possible connections with Freemasonry of Thomas Hamilton, Lord Cullen himself, witnesses to the Inquiry and civil servants; also extracts from inquiry transcript relating to possible links with Freemasonry, and letters to and from Thomas Hamilton concerning running of boys clubs, rebuttals of allegations made against him and his claims against Central Regional Council and Central Scotland Police (R77).'

"I lodged a Petition with the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament and sent copies to every MSP, exposing the flagrant cover-up. At the hearing on 29 November 2003, I made the following oral submission to the PPC: "I don’t think there is anyone in Scotland who now believes that the Cullen Inquiry into the Dunblane Massacre was anything other than a Masonic whitewash. The 100-year 'Gagging Order on my correspondence with the Cullen Inquiry confirms that. This Committee was provided with copies of my documents so cannot ignore the existence of this solid evidence.

"At the time of the Inquiry, Lord Cullen claimed there was no evidence of child sex-abuse in relation to Thomas Hamilton and his connections, but seven years later he uses the fact that there was evidence of child sex-abuse to put a “Gagging Order” on the files, claiming it was imposed to protect the names of victims, even though most of the files buried do not mention any names of victims.

"My own files are in that category. It must be clear to the Committee that the only reason the content of my letters to Cullen were 'gagged' was precisely to keep the Masonic implication out of the equation; therefore out of the public eye.

"'There is no statutory basis for the closure of orders created by Scottish public bodies.' These are the words of the Lord Advocate, not mine. They were produced in a publication on 18 March 2003 by the Scottish Executive - News Online, under the heading: 'Dunblane police reports released.'

“That disclosure alone makes a mockery of the Clerk to the Committee, Steve Farrell’s 'view' that it is not within the competence of the Parliament to overturn or interfere with the terms of such an order. The Scottish Parliament is the ONLY with the power to create a framework for imposing closure orders; but it must do so in the public interest, not in the interest of collaborators in secret societies.

"The Lord Advocate goes on to say: 'The Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 makes provision for the preservation, care and custody of the public records of Scotland. The terms of the legislation are permissive [i.e., lenient, tolerant or liberal, reflecting a belief that there should be as few restraints as possible].'
'Preservation, custody and care of records' does not mean the exact opposite; the 'smotheration, stash and snare' of public records.

"The report continues: 'By contrast, in England and Wales the Public Records Act 1958 (as amended by the Public Records Act 1967) sets a statutory "closure period" of 30 years, after which records must, with limited exceptions, be made available to the public. The 1937 [Scottish] Act DOES NOT impose similar obligations on Executive departments, but IN PRACTICE those procedures are followed in Scotland.'

"'In practice' means nothing and could well be replaced with 'convenience', "habit", 'obsession', 'fixation', 'weakness', and a number of other meaningless slogans. Even tradition has no authority in law. Just because something is widespread 'practice, it does not create a power that Parliament has denied or has not legislated for.

"Since there is no framework for closure orders in Scotland, I am calling on Parliament to enact unequivocal legislation to prevent people with a vested interest from burying evidence and diverting the onus onto everyone from judges to procurators fiscal to the police to clerks and to every Tom, Dick and Harry chosen for the purpose, so that the real culprits can distance themselves from their illicit undertakings.

"This closure order was enforced not to protect the names of children, who are adults now, but to protect the names of very high-profile Masons and paedophiles."

On being questioned by members of the PPC, I brought to their attention the fact that, in the Cullen Inquiry transcript, three people giving evidence referred to Thomas Hamilton's connection with the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane. At page 286, Grace Jones Ogilvie, a neighbour of Thomas Hamilton, said Hamilton used to get a van from Central Region for camps at Loch Lomondside and Queen Victoria School. At page 1,803, Ian Steven Boal, who was a teacher and a friend of Hamilton's, told how he was helped by Thomas Hamilton to get a job at Queen Victoria School. At page 2,267, Robert Mark Ure, an ex-husband of a friend of Thomas Hamilton, evidenced that his estranged wife had been to the rifle range at Queen Victoria School with Thomas Hamilton.

These referrals to Queen Victoria School were mysteriously ignored in Cullen's Report. Why were questions not asked about who made it possible for Hamilton to have easy access to and influence in QVS. Being a boarding school for children of the military, apparently sten guns were occasionally used on the range.

According to a former school master at QVS, Hamilton had free access to the rifle range. He also disclosed that he had been complaining for years about very high profile people arriving at the school (Friends of QVS they were called), some of whom took children away from the school for weekends to play out their perverted, sordid, sexual fantasies on children. Hamilton was the mediator for this paedophile ring. This schoolmaster was prevented from giving evidence at the Cullen Inquiry and was soon moved away to a remote part of Scotland.

What you had here was a Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Forsyth who, by virtue of office, was on the Board of Directors of QVS, and was also responsible for the appointment of Cullen to conduct the Inquiry. There is Prince Philip, a Freemason, the patron of the Board of Directors of QVS and is an honorary member of the exclusive, secretive and highly suspect Speculative Society of Edinburgh. Then there is Lord (Donald McArthur) Ross, the then Lord Justice-Clerk and Cullen's superior in the judiciary, who was also on the Board of Directors, and is also a "Brother" of Cullen's in the Masonic Speculative Society of Edinburgh, numbered at 1642.

Five weeks after the hearing of my petition, I still had not heard a peep from the Public Petitions Committee so I decided to write to them, stressing my concern about the inordinate delay in replying - notwithstanding the Committee's (inappropriate and unconstitutional) approach to Colin Boyd, the Lord Advocate to ask why the 100-year "Gagging Order" was imposed.

Even forgetting for the minute that the Lord Advocate has no legitimacy in Scottish law whatsoever to agree to the imposition of unlegislated closure orders in Scotland, it would take no time at all for even a primary schoolkid to follow instructions, pick up 106 files, single out the second-last one filed at 105, read the straightforward content, and declare: "I have no idea why these files have been gagged for 100 years?

But we are not depending on schoolchildren here to utter a response. We are depending on politicians and the legal profession. In a reply from the PPC dated 9 December, I was advised:

"As you are aware, at its meeting on Wednesday 29 October 2003, the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee considered the petition that you submitted on 26 June 2003. At that meeting the Committee agreed to write to the Lord Advocate seeking (a) further details of the framework under which a decision to impose a closure order of 100 years can be made, (b) confirmation as to why certain evidence that does not name specific children also appears to be subject to this 100-year closure order, and (c) an indication of the timescales for publication of the full catalogue of Cullen Inquiry material by the National Archives of Scotland and for any subsequent decisions on the release of material and variations of the closure period.

"We are still waiting for a response from the Lord Advocate's Office; once this has been received it will be further considered by the Committee. You will be informed when the petition is considered further and the outcome of that consideration."

After the hearing, the Committee agreed (not with me, but with one another) to approach the Lord Advocate to seek further details. I retaliated: "That could take another 99 years!"

It is now over two months since the PPC approached the Lord Advocate. Rather than elaborate further, I will quote the words of William Shakespeare in 1 Henry VI, iii, 1592: "Defer no time; delays have dangerous ends."

If the above information does not on its own rouse us, the public, into calling for a fresh inquiry into the events leading up to the Dunblane massacre and the ensuing whitewash, we are all guilty of something a lot more serious than complacency; we are all guilt of complicity. To sin by silence when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.

That aside, only time will tell what the outcome will be. In the near future, however, I envisage many clandestine figures in the Judiciary and in Parliament, with something to hide, clumsily tripping over their cloaks and falling on their daggers.

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