councillor who backed Thomas Hamilton's bid to keep his boys' club
open was explaining his position to the Cullen Inquiry today. LINK
Ball was Hamilton's councillor and supported
him in the face of opposition from Labour colleagues on Central Regional
Yesterday the inquiry heard Central Council officials who backed down
from cancelling the let of school halls to Hamilton were unaware two
neighbouring local authorities had won similar cases.
A special group was formed
by Central Regional Council last year to investigate complaints by
parents about Hamilton's boys' clubs. LINK
Region allowed Hamilton to
continue hiring Dunblane High School until
March this year, and was prepared to allow him to hold a camp there
Cullen Inquiry heard ten complaints had been received from parents,
and a team of three officials and two police officers had been set
up to collect information LINK.
senior legal advisers were worried Hamilton
would appeal against a decision to terminate the lease.
In 1983, Hamilton
had appealed to the Local Government Ombudsman
that Central Region had acted unfairly by
withdrawing a let for the same school. In a report which accused
the council of maladministration, the Ombudsman
ruled this had been based on gossip only and Hamilton's
let should be reinstated.
However, appeals in 1989
and 1992 by Hamilton after having lets terminated
in Lothian and Fife had been rejected by the Ombudsman,
who found the local authorities had good grounds.
One of Central's
legal advisers admitted to the Cullen Inquiry
this would have affected their stance.
Cobb, former Deputy Director of Administration and Legal
Services, said: "I feel in retrospect we may have been looking
for higher evidence than we actually required."
But he said the
Ombudsman's decision in 1983 had been a
factor in their thinking.
"To have gone
to the Ombudsman and lost, there would have
been a very serious difficulty for us in the control of Mr Hamilton
in the future.
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