(215)  Dunblane: freedom of information, privacy and truth

After public controversy about a 100-year closure of certain internal police reports into youth camps run by Thomas Hamilton, who in 1996 killed 16 young children and their teacher at Dunblane primary school, the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, ordered the release of the documents on 18 March 2003.  The reports contained details of complaints of child abuse by Hamilton at the camps, but the names of children involved had been blacked out in the material to protect their privacy.  The controversy had centred on the reasons why Hamilton’s gun licence had been allowed to continue, and on the possible involvement of prominent Scottish politicians with Hamilton before 1996.

Earlier, on 10 March 2003, The Scotsman reported that Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the Secretary General of NATO, was contemplating an action of defamation against The Sunday Herald in respect of a statement made on the newspaper’s website by a member of the public, alleging a connection between Lord Robertson and Thomas Hamilton.   Lord Robertson’s own son had attended a camp run by Hamilton in the 1980s, and Lord Robertson had drawn concerns about Hamilton’s behaviour to the attention of his then MP, Michael (now Lord) Forsyth.