man who sold guns to Dunblane killer
Thomas Hamilton is a close
friend of Foreign Secretary
Malcolm Rifkind, the Evening
News can reveal today.
Gun shop owner Robert
Bell, who lives in Balerno, is chairman of the Conservative
party for Edinburgh Pentlands constituency
- the seat held by Mr Rifkind.
Today Mr Rifkind backed Mr Bell
and said he was a man he held in high regard.
have known Bob a long time and he is a very responsible
businessman and a man I have deep respect for,"
who is reported to have said he would sell the guns again despite
the murder of 16 children and their teacher, will play a key role
in Mr Rifkind's campaign at the next General
Election. [Ed ~ A safe seat that
Rifkind would lose. You at least
deserve plaudits for that, Robert.]
denied the pair's friendship would affect his position on gun laws. "The
fact that I know Bob is not going to affect my stance," he
Foreign Secretary, in the
Capital to celebrate the Conservatives' council by-election
win in Baberton refused to state his views on gun
law because of the public
inquiry launched by the Government.
Today Labour MP for
Edinburgh South, Nigel Griffiths, said:
"This endorsement of Mr Bell by Mr
Rifkind is really rather premature.
I think that Lord Cullen should be investigating
the role of all those who were supplying guns and ammunition to
this monster. Clearly the issue of the responsibility
of people who sell guns has to be examined thoroughly."
bought his arms and ammunition from Mr Bell
at his gun shop D Crockart & Son,
King Street, Stirling. He has been an occasional customer
for many years.
Today, Mr Bell
refused to comment on his friendship with Mr Rifkind. After
the gym-hall massacre, he said Hamilton's
purchases from his shop were authorised under firearms regulations.
on each occasion was correct in every respect," he said. Hamilton
had been at Mr Bell's shop only a few
weeks before he shot 28 calmly primary one children and their teacher
in Dunblane Primary ten days ago.
would not say whether the three 9mm pistols and the revolver found
at the scene were bought from him. But he confirmed his
shop had the permit to sell handguns and that Hamilton
had the correct licence.
Inquiry will start taking
evidence in June.
Cullen's report will cover
the events leading up to the tragedy,
the licensing of guns, school security and the working
of Hamilton's mind.
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