Dunblane secret documents contain letters by Tory and Labour ministers
02 March 2003
Investigation: By Neil Mackay, Home Affairs Editor
LETTERS between Labour and Tory ministers and correspondence relating to Thomas Hamilton's alleged involvement with Freemasonry are part of a batch of more than 100 documents about the Dunblane mass murder which have been sealed from public sight for 100 years.
The documents include a letter connected to Hamilton, which was sent by George Robertson, currently head of Nato, to Michael Forsyth, who was then Secretary of State for Scotland.
Until now it was thought that a 100-year public secrecy order had only been placed on one police report into Hamilton which allegedly named high-profile politicians and legal figures. However, a Sunday Herald investigation has uncovered that 106 documents, which were submitted to the Dunblane inquiry in 1996, were also placed under the 100-year rule.
The Scottish Executive has claimed the 100-year secrecy order was placed on the Central Police report, which was drafted in 1991 five years before the murders, to protect the identities of children named in the report. Hamilton had allegedly abused a number of children prior to his 1996 gun attack on Dunblane primary school in which 16 primary one children and a teacher died before Hamilton turned his gun on himself.
However, only a handful of the documents, which the Sunday Herald has discovered to be also subject to the 100-year rule, relate to children or name alleged abuse victims.
The most intriguing document is listed as: 'Copy of letter from Thomas Hamilton to Dunblane parents regarding boys' club, and flyer advertising Dunblane Boys' Sports Club. Both sent to Rt Hon Michael Forsyth, MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, by George Robertson MP.' Also closed under the 100-year rule is a 'submission to Lord James Douglas Hamilton, MP, Minister of State at the Scottish Office, concerning government evidence to the Inquiry'.
Another document relates to correspondence between the clerk of the Dunblane inquiry, which was presided over by Lord Cullen, and a member of the public regarding 'possible affiliations of Thomas Hamilton with Freemasonry ... and copy letters from Thomas Hamilton'.
SNP deputy justice minister, Michael Matheson, said: 'The explanation to date about the 100 -year rule was that it was put in place to protect the interests of children named in the Central Police report. How can that explanation stand when children aren't named? The 100-year rule needs to be re-examined with respect to all documents.'
Matheson has written to the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, asking why the 100-year rule applies and how it can be revoked. He has so far had no response. He also asked First Minister Jack McConnell to explain the reasons for the 100-year order but received 'no substantial answer'. Matheson is to write to Colin Boyd a second time, in the light of the discovery that more than 100 other documents are also sealed, asking him to account for the decision.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: 'In consultation with the Crown Office and the Scottish Office, Lord Cullen agreed that in line with the age of some of the individuals involved and named in the inquiry, the closure period would be 100 years. The Lord Advocate is considering issuing a redacted copy of the productions, which would blank out identifying details of children and their families. A decision on this has yet to be made.'
Other sealed key reports on Dunblane include: