Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday, June 19, 1996
WHY I STOOD BY HAMILTON
Councillor explains

Robert Ball

By Stephen Smith

THE councillor who backed Thomas Hamilton's bid to keep his boys' club open was explaining his position to the Cullen Inquiry today.

Robert Ball was Hamilton's councillor and supported him in the face of opposition from Labour colleagues on Central Regional Council.  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.

Camp

But Central Region allowed Hamilton to continue hiring Dunblane High School until March this year, and was prepared to allow him to hold a camp there this summer.

The 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.

But 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.

Admission

One of Central's legal advisers admitted to the Cullen Inquiry this would have affected their stance.

David 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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Copyright © 2016 William Burns. All rights reserved.

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