THE councillor who
backed Thomas Hamilton's bid to keep his boys' club open was explaining
his position to the Cullen Inquiry today. LINK
Robert Ball was
Hamilton's councillor and supported him in the face of opposition
from Labour colleagues on Central Regional Council. LINK
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'
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.
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
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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * *