Lecturer admits form mistake

Dr Robert Ball

THE SCOTSMAN Wednesday, June 26 1996

THE former Education Convener of Central Region admitted yesterday he signed an application by Thomas Hamilton for official approval of one of his boys' clubs without having read the form properly.

Dr Robert Ball, a university lecturer, was also said to have seen photographs of children taken by the Dunblane killer and had been made aware of a secret plan by council officials to deny Hamilton the use of council premises.

Dr Ball was recalled to the inquiry - he gave evidence last week - after a witness spoke of having advised him that by 1995 there was a widespread, though unofficial practice of discouraging Hamilton from the use of school premises.

William Houston, 43, a staff training development officer now with Stirling Council, said he had been contacted by a counterpart in Strathclyde who was concerned about whether two signatures on Hamilton's application for registration as an approved club in Kirkintilloch - which would have qualified for reduced rates - were genuine.

The then Central Region, he said, by that time had a strategy to discourage Hamilton from getting lets by allocating premises to more deserving groups.

"It was known throughout education that Hamilton was to be discouraged and obstacles put in his way, although it couldn't be done officially."

When a community officer from Strathclyde contacted him to say Hamilton's application had been signed by Dr Robert Ball, he had spoken to the then education convener.  Mr Houston said he had explained to Dr Ball they were trying to prevent Hamilton from getting access.

"Mr Ball said he had seen the photographs and that there was nothing illegal about taking photographs of young people and until there was hard evidence, he had a duty to sign it.  The words he used were that Hamilton was one of his 'punters' - meaning one of his constituents."  [Ed. ~ The term "punters" is an informal reference to several types of people, but "constituents" is certainly not one them.]

Reminded by Iain Bonomy, Crown Counsel, that the application stated that Hamilton was "known to me and worthy of support", Dr Ball said he felt the form was an application for a let and difficult to refuse.

"I thought it was a let application.  I perhaps didn't give it as much attention as I should have done."

Copyright © 2016 William Burns. All rights reserved.

Dr Robert Ball
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