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
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. LINK
The words he used were that Hamilton was one of
his 'punters' - meaning one of his constituents." LINK
[Ed. ~ The term "punters" is an informal
reference to several types of people, but "constituents"
is certainly not one of 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. LINK
"I thought it was a let application. I
perhaps didn't give it as much attention as I should have done."