FOURTH DAY.

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) ACT 1921.

TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
AT THE PUBLIC INQUIRY

into

INCIDENT AT DUNBLANE PRIMARY SCHOOL
on 13th MARCH, l996

before

THE HON LORD CULLEN

on

MONDAY, 3rd JUNE, 1996.

within

THE ALBERT HALLS,
DUMBARTON ROAD, STIRLING

.......

(Shorthand Notes by Wm Hodge & Pollock Ltd Glasgow)

ROBERT COMRIE HESLOP DEUCHARS (68), Sworn:

EXAMINED BY MR. LAKE: What is your occupation? - School crossing patrol and retired former BR employee.

Is it correct that you live at 5 Kent Road in Stirling? - That is correct.

And that is close to No. 7? - Upstairs, yes.

Sorry, is that you are upstairs or 7 is.....? - No. 5 is upstairs.  No. 7 is downstairs.

How long have you lived there? - Since l970.

Before I turn to your dealings with Thomas Hamilton, I would just like to consider your connection with the Scout Association in general. When did you first join the Scout Association? - I joined the Wolf Cubs in l934 and remained in the Scout Movement until I was officially retired in April l993.

In the early l970s can you recall what your role was within the Scout Association? - In l970 I was Group Scout Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling Group.  In l97l, I was appointed Assistant District Commissioner for Scouts.  In January l973, I was appointed District Commissioner for Stirling.

What were the responsibilities of the District Commissioner with regard to the appointment of Scout Leaders? - The District Commissioner has full responsibility for the appointment and termination of leaders in the Scout Movement within Stirling District.

If someone wished to apply to become a Scout Leader, to whom would they apply? - They would apply to me as District Commissioner.

And what would you do with that application? - When you are approached by someone to become an adult leader, the procedure which is laid down in the Scout Association Policy, Organisation and Rules is that an Inquiry Form is prepared by the District Commissioner and sent to our Records Office in order to determine the person's character, whether they are suitable or unsuitable for working with young children.

You said that is what is done.  Is that what was done in l970? - That is what was done in the case of Thomas Hamilton.

When did you first have dealings with Thomas Hamilton? - I would say as a civilian I visited his Do-It-Yourself shop on a few occasions prior to him approaching me to become a leader.

3.20 p.m.

That is his shop in Cowane Street? - That is correct.

When did he apply to you to become a Scout Leader? - I would say it would probably be May or June of 1973.  I am not sure of the exact date.

Are you aware whether or not Hamilton had any involvement with the Scout Association prior to that date? - I had heard that he was a Venture Scout with the First Stirling, but as I did not visit Venture Scouts, who are supposed to be a self-governing body, to see that the thing was running well, I had no connection with Hamilton as a Venture Scout.

What is a Venture Scout? - As far as I know, yes.

What is a Venture Scout? - Well, he had his uniform and all the rest of it with the First Venture, and I believe Scott Park, who was the leader, confirmed he was a Venture Scout, but not a regular attender.

What age range do Venture Scouts cover? - Venture Scouts cover the age range -- well, at that time it was 16 years to 20 years.

Was he still a Venture Scout at the time he applied to become a Scout Leader? - No. I think he had just actually finished his Venture Scout period of service.

You said in 1973 Hamilton approached you to become a Scout Leader? - He actually phoned me at home one night and I arranged for him to come down and have a talk with me, so that I could get the various particulars from him, i.e. his name, address, date of birth, so that I could send away the enquiry form.

And that is the enquiry that has to be sent to Scout Headquarters? - That is correct.

Did you do that in respect of Mr. Hamilton? - I did.

And what was the response? - As I did not receive a phone call within the next 24 hours it was assumed it was all right, but as I normally do, I wait until I get written confirmation that a search has been carried out and no record of any misdemeanours could be found.

And that is a record kept by Scout Headquarters? - That is correct.

At that time what was your opinion of Hamilton's character? - I would say he was young and very enthusiastic.

Were you happy to accept him as a Scout Leader? - Yes.

What are the responsibilities of a Scout Leader? - Well, as his first appointment was that of Assistant Scout Leader, he was under the direct jurisdiction of the Scout Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling, and also under the Group Leader of the 4th/6th Stirling, so he was only acting as assistant at that time.

So when you refer to him being an Assistant Scout Leader, was that after you had approved him? - That is correct.

And once he had been approved by you, that would be when he was granted his warrant book? - That is correct.

Was he able to be an Assistant Scout Leader without that warrant book? - He could have been on probation while his warrant was going through, but until the warrant is actually signed by me, it is an ineffective piece of paper.  His service with the Scouts actually begins on the date the District Commissioner signs the warrant.

After you had sent the enquiry to Scout Headquarters did you make any further enquiries prior to signing the warrant? - No.

Did you see Mr. Hamilton again prior to signing the warrant? - No.

When did you tell him that he had been appointed as an Assistant Scout Leader? - When I received the completed warrant book, as it was known at that time, from Scout Headquarters, I went along and presented it to him.

And can you say again which Scout troop was it he was appointed to? - He was appointed as Assistant Scout Leader to the 4th/6th Stirling, which met in the Episcopal Church Hall, Dumbarton Road.

How did he get on as Assistant Scout Leader? - From memory he was very keen and willing to do this, that and the next thing.  In fact, there was an occasion when I was approached by Mr. Sim, the Group Scout Leader, who unfortunately is now deceased, that Thomas Hamilton had offered to take some boys on his boat to Loch Lomond for some part of their Proficiency Badge work.  I said "Under no circumstances until such times as that boat is certified by someone in authority who knows about speedboats".

This was arranged through Glasgow Scout Council, who had an expert, and Mr. Hamilton was given the name and address of this scrutineer, as I would call him, and advised to make arrangements so that his boat could be inspected.  I received a report back from the gentleman in question, and Mr. Hamilton was declined a certificate on the grounds that (a) there were insufficient lifejackets/something aids -- I can't remember the words.

Buoyancy aids? - Buoyancy aids, that is it -- insufficient lifejackets/buoyancy aids, no distress flares and no oars in the event of the engine breaking down on the boat, and also his knowledge of the waters of Loch Lomond was rather scant.

And that is in relation to his seacraft or boatcraft? - Yes.

Your information about how he performed within the 4th/6th Stirling Scout Troop -- did that come from the Scout Leader? - Yes.

Who was the Scout Leader? - I think if I remember it was a Mr. Montgomery Stevenson.

And he was the source of your information? - Yes, and also from Mr. Sim, who was the Group Scout Leader.

Is Mr. Stevenson still with the Scout Association? - No, he is not. He left, and stays somewhere in the St. Ninian's area.

Did you have any problems with Mr. Hamilton as a Scout Leader at the 4th/6th Stirling? - No problems whatsoever.

How long did he stay at the 4th/6th Stirling? - Well, on the information I received from Mr. Sim and Mr. Stevenson, during September, or the beginning of October, I had had a conversation with Father McAllister of the Roman Catholic Church in Bannockburn, who wanted to resurrect the former 24th Stirlingshire, which was a closed sponsored group attached to the Roman Catholic Church.  I pointed out to Father McAllister that there were no Roman Catholic leaders available, and he said "I am quite willing to accept a Protestant leader, as long as they run the troop, and I will look after the religious aspect of the boys within the group".  And with that, and with the reports I received on Thomas Hamilton, I took it upon myself to give him a six months' secondment to start up and organise the troop at Bannockburn.

Is it correct that problems occurred while he was at the 24th Stirling Troop? - They did start to appear, but at the beginning I put it down to, shall we say, being inexperienced.  His play times were somewhat stretched some nights, and there didn't seem to be much Scout work being done.  So I reprimanded him, and things improved for a few weeks.

A more serious complaint was made, however, when he took some boys up to the hills? - That is correct.

Was that complaint made to you? - It was, by the parents of the boys who had been on that trip.

What were they complaining of? - They were complaining that the boys had arrived home on the Sunday very cold and hungry due to the fact that they had been forced to sleep in the van overnight, and the temperature had dropped so dramatically that the van had frozen up and had to be towed to Aviemore to be defrosted.

What did you do in response to the complaint? - Well, after investigating and going round all the parents involved I then told Mr. Hamilton that his planning abilities were rather lacking, and in future he should double check everything -- because his excuse was that the accommodation had been double booked, and he didn't want to disappoint the boys, so he let them sleep in the van overnight.

So you warned Hamilton about his behaviour, but took it no further? - That is correct.

And there was a second complaint made not long after that? - Yes, within three weeks the boys again arrived home, but this time their sleeping bags were soaking wet, all their clothing was wet, and once again they had slept in the van.

Who made the complaint on that occasion? - The parents of the boys who had attended.

What did you do in response to it? - I once again went round and visited both the boys and their parents, and got their story, and one parent had produced a copy of the programme which Mr. Hamilton had issued on both occasions, and it clearly stated that the boys would be accommodated in the former railway hostel at Aviemore.  Being a B.R. employee I immediately phoned my counterpart at Aviemore, obtained the phone number of the hostel, and confirmed with the owner of the hostel that no booking had been made at all by Mr. Hamilton in his name or in the name of the 24th Scout Group on either of the occasions.

Did you speak to Hamilton about this? - I did.

What did he say? - I told him after that that in view of his lack of qualities in leadership that I considered his services were no longer required in Scouting, and that I was withdrawing his warrant.

So what was the actual reason for withdrawing the warrant? - For the lack of planning and irresponsibility of Thomas Hamilton in putting young boys at risk.

That was at risk from cold? - That was correct.

Did you have any reason to suspect that he intended to cause harm to any of the boys in any way? - No reason whatsoever.

Did you have any reason to suspect there may be improper sexual motives in what he was doing? - None whatsoever, because when I asked the boys, the boys said "Oh, it was all right for Mr. Hamilton.  He went on the front bench seat on the van with his sleeping bag and blankets, and we had to sleep on the cold steel floor".

Did you tell Hamilton that you were withdrawing his warrant? - I did.

What was his response? - His response was "It is your decision.  I will resign" -- and he walked away from me then.  Following that I submitted a form to Headquarters saying I did not consider him a suitable applicant due to his immaturity and irresponsibility.

And what was the purpose of submitting that to Scout Headquarters? - To ensure that he did not get another warrant in the Scout Association.

How would he be prevented from getting another warrant? - Well, the minute the application was filled up and sent to Headquarters, they would check the list again and say, "No, no, your warrant is declined."

So the Scout Headquarters keep a list of persons they consider unsuitable to hold a warrant? - That is correct.

And is that referred to as the blacklist within the Scouting Association? - That is what is called, the blacklist.

Could I ask you to look at a document which is DCRC AL/B1/F1/1.  It is D27 in H4. I think there is not a copy of it other than this one -- there is a copy available now.  That is a letter addressed from Mr. Hamilton, from an address at Cowane Street in Stirling, and is dated the 28th April, 1974.  It states: "Dear Sir, I tender my resignation as Scout Leader of the 24th Stirlingshire Scout Troop.  Firstly I disapprove of your behaviour as District Commissioner, in the underhand way you conduct Scouting business.  Having helped at your summer camp, I was appalled at the conditions of safety, hygiene and equipment.  I was shocked in your openly buying six bottles of cider and six bottles of wine for the consumption of young boys, and in the way it is common practice for all the Leaders to disappear to the pubs at night and leave the boys unsupervised".

His reference to the District Commissioner in that letter would be a reference to you? - That is correct.

So this letter appears to have been written to you? - Well, may I say I can't recall having received that letter.

You never received that letter from Mr. Hamilton at the time? - Not that I can remember.

After you had terminated Mr. Hamilton's warrant what was the next time you saw him? - About 12 years later when a furniture van appeared at the gate of the block and Mr. Hamilton got out and started unloading furniture into the empty flat below where I stay.

So he was moving in beneath you? - He was.  I thought he was just helping the old couple, but after the van left and he remained, my words at that time were "My God, what have I done to deserve this?".

Who were the old couple, as you have called them? - The old couple were who I was led to believe were the mother and father of Thomas Hamilton.

Did you speak to Hamilton and his mother and father while they lived beneath you? - I spoke mainly to the old man, because on one occasion he was attempting to cut the grass with an old hand mower and I said "Look, Mr. Hamilton, I will get the electric mower out and I'll tidy up the grass for you in five minutes.  Put that old mower back in the garden shed", and ever since that day I have always cut the grass for him.

Did you socialise with Hamilton's father? - Yes, once we got to know each other, yes, we met on a Saturday or Sunday in the Masonic Lodge in Stirling.

Did you ever socialise with Hamilton? - No.

Are you in a position to say whether or not Hamilton was a Mason? - I don't think he was.  I mean, talking to the gentleman that I assumed was his father I would say that no, Thomas Hamilton was not a member of the Masonic Lodge.

And did you have discussions with Hamilton while he was living at No. 77? - Mainly after he had pushed his father out of the house and become sole tenant of the Council flat.

When did his father leave the house? - I would say three or four years ago.

And what makes you say that Hamilton pushed his father out of the house? - Because on occasions -- it is a very quiet street, and on occasions, on odd nights my wife and I would hear this gentle tapping on the door downstairs, and this was the old man trying to get in, and speaking to the old man later, young Tom had deliberately locked the door and left the key in the lock, and made the old man stand out there for maybe ten, 15, 20 minutes, knocking at the door; and the old man would knock quietly because he didn't want to disturb the neighbours round about.

Did Hamilton's father ever complain to you that he was being mistreated by Hamilton? - He did.

What did he say was happening? - On one occasion the black and white television which was in the living room, according to the father, was removed and put into the old man's bedroom, and a new coloured television was installed in the living room, with strict instructions: "The new television is for Thomas Hamilton's use only."  Under no circumstances could the old man make use of this television.

And that was the way Hamilton treated his father? - Yes.

You say when his father moved out you had a discussion with Hamilton? - That is correct.

Were there any particular areas Hamilton discussed with you? - The main area of discussion was between Thomas Hamilton and myself was the Sports Club or Boys Club or whatever it was that he ran at Dunblane.  That seemed to be his forte in life and it was very successful and I remember saying to him on one occasion: "Maybe this is what you have been looking for, Tom.  It is your life", shall we say.

Did he have any complaints arising out of his operation of the Sports Club? - No, according to him it was going very well.

Did he ever discuss with you an incident arising out of a camp he held at Loch Lomond in l988? - Yes, he was very upset that the police had raided the camp and judged the camp as a Scout Camp and not as the way he ran the camp and he was very distressed and he was determined that he would obtain an apology from Central Scotland Police for a mishandling of the incident.

Did he indicate to you that he blamed the Scouts in any way for what had happened? - Never once.

Were you aware whether Hamilton had many callers at the house at 7 Kent Road? - There were one or two but I wouldn't say he had many callers at the house.

Were these men or women that came to the house? - Mainly men.

Would any women visit the house? - There might have been one but that is about l0 years ago at least.

Did any boys come to visit the house? - I have only seen young boys there once and that was at the end of one of his camps or......... No, I think it would have been after he had started holding his annual do at Dunblane High School.  A van drew up, young boys got out, unloaded the van, straight back into the van and away again.

So it was an isolated occasion? - Yes, definitely very quick.

Do you recall an incident in which callers to the house resulted in the police being called? - Yes, I do.

When was that? - I would say probably May or June of last year.  I heard probably about 5 o'clock at night a very heavy hammering on Mr. Hamilton's door and then a knock came to my door and this well-built lad in his 30s asked if I knew if Mr. Hamilton was in and I said: "Well, I'm very sorry, I can't tell you one way or the other."

What did the man do? - He said: "Well, we'll come back later."

Did he come back later on? - He did.  About 9 o'clock at night.  I heard the front door being hammered and kicked and I heard his back door being hammered and kicked and the next thing I knew the police had arrived and there were actually two men there and they were put into the back of the police car.  The police eventually got Mr. Hamilton to open the door and went in and had a few words, came out, spoke to the two gentlemen in the car and then they got out of the police car and walked round the corner as if they were going to another car.

Did you discuss that incident with Mr. Hamilton? - I did.

Did he tell you what had happened? - He said it was a misunderstanding about the gentleman who came to his door.  I think it was his stepson and Mr. Hamilton had also I believe advertised a photographic business which offered to take young lads photographs and the stepfather had misinterpreted what the boy had taken home.

You mentioned a camera business there.  Were you aware that Hamilton carried on a photographic business? - Well, some of the neighbours told me that he had pushed business cards through their letter boxes but I can't recollect getting one myself.

Did you ever see him using a camera? - Yes, on occasions.  There was one occasion when I came home and he was in the front garden across the road photographing some pansies as the lady involved was an artist and she had tried to sketch the pansies so that she could later do the pansies in water colour and he took photographs for her and gave her the completed photograph when it was ready.

Do you know where he conducted his business from? - I am assuming it was from 7 Kent Road.

And you didn't notice any people coming to and from the house in respect of this business? - There were one or two cars came but I wouldn't like to say that they were there at the business.  I believe there was one gentleman that Thomas Hamilton mentioned to me that he had just sold a camera to, but that was it.

Did he ever discuss any photographic assignments he was doing with you? - He did, because he came out of the house one morning heavily laden with tripods and camera cases and such like and I said to him, "Where are you going, Tom?" and he said, "Oh, I have got a conference to cover in Glasgow" somewhere.  I don't remember where it was and he said to me, "I'm going away along to get the train" and I said "Throw the stuff in the back of the car and I'll drop you off at the station", which I did and that was it.

You mentioned you saw one or two callers to the house, mainly men.  Do you know who they were? - One of them was a landscape gardener by the name of James Gillespie and the other, I won't say frequent, was somebody who I am assuming worked for STV because they were in a blue Rover Estate with the STV insignia on the side of it.

Were you aware Hamilton kept guns? - No.

Did he ever discuss guns with you? - He brought a gun catalogue out once and whether I had mentioned earlier that I had at one time been a member of the Bridge of Allan Rifle Club, I said "Tom, I'm sorry, but my eyesight is gone, using rifles and that goes beyond me now."

Did you ever go into No. 7 Kent Road? - I was only privileged to visit the kitchen in No. 7 Kent Road. I was never in any other part of the house.

In passing by did you ever see into the house? - Only once.

Where did you see into? - For some unknown reason his front curtains were open and I recall seeing maybe l5 or 18 pictures round his wall of what looked like class photographs to me.

Were these photographs with a number of boys in each photograph? - Yes.

Could you see what the children in the photographs were wearing? - No, I couldn't.

Were you aware of those photographs being removed from Hamilton's walls? - Well, I did hear that they had been removed but I couldn't confirm or deny that statement.

Were you ever aware of him burning photographs? - Once again, I was told that he had had a bonfire out in the back garden and there appeared to be a smell of celluloid but I was out that night and I just saw the burning embers when I came home.

Do you know whether or not Hamilton worked? - I don't think he worked after his Do-It-Yourself shop collapsed.

Did he appear to you to be short of money? - No.

What led you to that conclusion? - Well, last year my wife had insisted that we fit a security light (a) so that she could see to drive into the garage and she also wanted another security light at the side of the house so that nobody could stand at the corner and catch her as and when she came out of the car.  We got that fitted and Thomas Hamilton came to the door and said "That's a wonderful idea.  I have a lot of valuable equipment.  How much did it cost?"  I said, "Well, the total came to about £64", so within five minutes he was back at the door and handed me £32, 50 per cent of the cost and the same thing happened when I persuaded him to connect an outside tap to his waterpipe, he paid 50 per cent of the cost.

In your opinion was he a good neighbour? - He was a very good neighbour.

Did you have any complaints about him? - The only complaint I had was the state that he kept his kitchen in and also that he refused to do anything about his front garden.

You said in l973 you regarded him as being suitable for appointment as Scout Leader or Assistant Scout Leader? - Yes.

Did your opinion of him change at all as a result of living so close to him? - Yes.

When did your opinion of him change? - I would say just shortly after he had got rid of the old man out of the house.

You say that was about three years ago? - Yes.

What was your opinion of him after that date? - I felt that he had no self-discipline and he appeared to have no sense of responsibility.

Did he give you any cause for concern? - Not against me in particular or anything like that.

Did you see Hamilton going about in March of this year? - Yes.

In particular, did you ever see him making his way out of the house carrying letters? - Yes. I think it was either the Saturday night or....... no, it would have been the Sunday night prior to the Dunblane tragedy.

On the 12th March did you notice a white van parked outside his house? - Well, it wasn't actually parked outside his house.  It was parked outside between No. l and 3 which is two semi-detached houses next to our block.  That is where it was parked.

Did you see Hamilton using the van? - Not on the Tuesday night.  It was on the morning of Wednesday the l3th that I associated the van with Hamilton.

What was he doing with the van at that time that you associated it with him? - He was scraping ice off the van when I returned from the newsagent's to pop the Stirling Observer through the letter box for my wife.

Did you speak to him? - I did.

What did you say? - I asked him to save my legs and to save my feet getting wet in the snow would he put the Stirling Observer through our letter box so that my wife would get a read of it in the morning.

What time was this? - This was about 8.l5 in the morning of the l3th March.

Did he strike you in any way as unusual at that time? - No, as I say, the only thing that made me sort of wonder was that he was up at that time in the morning because he wasn't an early riser.

But you saw nothing unusual in him at that time? - No, because when I proffered him the paper he said "Right, Comrie, I'll do that".

Were you aware of rumours circulating in Stirling and Dunblane regarding Hamilton? - I was.

What were the subject of these rumours? - There were rumours that he was sexually abusing children and such like and so forth.

Where did you hear these rumours? - From one of the neighbours following the camp at Loch Lomond and I said to the neighbour "Be very careful what you say.  There has been no proof."

Did you have any reason to suspect Hamilton was in some way mistreating children? - None whatsoever.

Are you aware that Hamilton ever blamed you for circulating rumours? - I did hear from my counterpart in the Trossachs, Dr David Vass, that some letters had gone to parents in Dunblane saying that I, along with other members of the Scout officials, had spread malicious rumours about him but at the same time I also understand that there was another letter went to the parents of Dunblane that if they wanted a character reference then they could contact me and I would be only too willing to supply a character reference on behalf of Mr. Hamilton.

Did he ever speak to you and confront you with having, as he saw it, spread these rumours? - No, none whatsoever.

CROSS-EXAMINED BY MR. CAMPBELL: When asked about looking into Mr. Hamilton's living room on one occasion I think you said something to the effect that for some unknown reason his front curtains were open? - Yes.

Do I gather correctly from that that generally he kept his front curtains closed? - That is correct.

Even during the day time? - Even during the day time, yes.

I think you told us that you became quite friendly with Jimmy Hamilton, Mr. Thomas Hamilton's adopted father? - I did.

And you would actually go for a drink to the Masonic Lodge? - That is correct.

Which Lodge was that? - Lodge No. 30 in Forth Street, Stirling.

When you were asked by my learned friend Mr Lake as to whether or not Mr. Thomas Hamilton was a Mason, I think you made some reference to remarks made by Jimmy Hamilton in giving your answer that in your view he was not a Mason.  What did Mr. Jimmy Hamilton say that caused you to be of that opinion? - I wouldn't like to say.  I don't know.  Tom just gave me the impression that he wasn't interested in anything such as the Masons.  I couldn't say what inference James made of that.  Sorry.

Was Jimmy Hamilton a Mason? - He was.

In the same Lodge? - No, he wasn't actually a member of Lodge 30.  He was a member of Lodge 76.

No further cross-examination.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Copyright © 2016 William BurnsAll rights reserved.

Dunblane Inquiry Transcript - Robert Comrie Heslop Deuchars

Dunblane Massacre
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The stained glass window in St Blane's Church, Dunblane, which commemorates the victims of the 1996 Massacre
We know that the above victims were killed by Thomas Hamilton, but, although we may not care, we do not know for sure who killed Thomas Hamilton, and why that person was carrying a revolver at the time!
Emma Crozier
Kevin Hassell
Victoria Clydesdale
Ross Irvine
David Kerr
John Petrie
Hanna Scott
Joanna Ross
Sophie North
Emily Morton
Maegan Turner
Brett McKinnon
Abigail McLennan
Charlotte Dunn
Mhairi MacBeath
Melissa Currie
Gwen Hodson/Mayor - schoolteacher
List of the victims of the Dunblane Massacre
Dunblane Cover-up
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Law Lords who are members of the exclusive, secretive, Masonic and highly suspect Speculative Society of Edinburgh (Spec):
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How many more non-SPEC Law Lords are Masons nevertheless?
Acknowledgement:
Credit to Tom Minogue for unearthing the SPEC roll of dishonour and also its founding members.