QUESTIONS are being asked whether
the Dunblane primary school killer, Thomas Hamilton, abused a position
as a Freemason for almost 20 years in order to gain influence with
people in authority.
A Labour MP who has campaigned against secret societies
said last night that Hamilton's membership of the Freemasons could
explain his "apparently charmed life" and should be investigated
by Lord Cullen's inquiry into the massacre.
People have said that Hamilton was a Freemason
and may have socialised with people of influence while attending
Masonic meetings and functions. LINK
A senior Scottish
Freemason told The Scotsman that Hamilton had been a Mason for a
number of years and had visited functions at different lodges.
"Although I believe his lodge did not knowingly
protect him, I am sure that favours between individual brothers
would have been exchanged," he said.
The Scotsman has obtained a list of more than 100
senior Freemasons in the Central Belt of Scotland in an effort to
trace Hamilton's own lodge membership. Of the dozen we contacted
most refused to confirm or categorically deny that Hamilton was
a Freemason. LINK
The Scotsman has also discovered that Hamilton's
grandfather Jimmy - who raised him after his natural parents separated
- has been a Freemason [Ed ~ Garrowhill
(Lanarkshire Middle Ward) No. 1413 LINK,
118 Garrowhill Drive, Garrowhill, Glasgow G69 6NR LINK]
for more than 40 years, and that Hamilton had probably followed
the natural course into the lodge.
One past master of a Stirling lodge said that Jimmy,
now aged 88, had often attended functions at his lodge. He
had not met Thomas Hamilton, but thought that he would have followed
his grandfather into Freemasonry.
A grand master of another Stirlingshire lodge said
he was "wary about saying too much" because of the sensitivity
surrounding the massacre.
However, he added: "I've known old Jimmy for
many years and he was a member of a Glasgow lodge. I don't
know about [Thomas], but it is likely he would have followed Jimmy
into his lodge."
Although Freemasonry is virtually unknown at the
top of Scottish business, many of its members are shopkeepers -
such as Hamilton - lawyers, middle managers and police officers.
As the owner of a DIY shop, Hamilton would have been a natural Freemason.
Martin Short, the author of Inside the Brotherhood
- a book on Freemasonry - says the most common form of entry into
Freemasonry is for a father to sponsor the son into the apprenticeship. He
adds that "an astonishing" 20 per cent of police officers
are currently Freemasons.
Chris Mullen, the Labour MP who had campaigned
against secret societies, said he found the alleged Masonic link
with Hamilton "very interesting".
"It certainly provides a possible explanation
of the apparently charmed life that Hamilton led," he said. "This
is obviously a matter that Lord Cullen will wish to explore as part
of his inquiry." [As a member of the Masonic Speculative
Society of Edinburgh (Spec) it is obviously a matter Cullen would
wish to avoid, and did avoid, resolutely, at all costs, despite
my letters to him expressing the exigency of exploring the Masonic
a spokesman for the Grand Lodge of Scotland in Edinburgh admitted
it did not have a collated database of its members and could not
be certain whether or not Hamilton was a Freemason.
Another spokesman for the Grand Lodge said if a
lodge became aware that one of its members was trying to misuse
membership, then they had the powers to throw them out. LINK
In the past year, 20 people have been thrown out
nationally after being convicted of criminal offences, but no figures
are kept centrally of those expelled for misuse of their membership.
~ The following article appeared on the same page (page 2) as the
The Scotsman, Friday, 22 March 1996
Secret brotherhood which protects its own
THE Freemasons of Britain are strongly protective
of their fellow Masons. They rarely punish brethren who break
the criminal law of the land, Martin Short, author of a best-selling
investigation into Freemasonry [Ed
~ "Inside the Brother-hood"], last night told The
"Scotland is a place where one Mason looks
after another," said Mr Short. "If Thomas Hamilton
was one of the brethren it's pretty bad news for the Masons because
one is inclined to assume he may well have received favours."
They would not allow one of their own brethren to be exposed to
public ridicule and would do everything to avoid his membership
Short, whose book Inside the Brotherhood: Further
Secrets of the Freemasons was first published in 1989, referred
to a local government ombudsman decision in Hamilton's favour in
The ombudsman overturned a decision by Central Regional Council
to end his lease of Dunblane High School premises for his boys'
club, the Dunblane Rover Group.
"The fact that he managed to bamboozle the
ombudsman suggests that the ombudsman was bombarded by letters,"
said Mr Short. "If he managed to convince the ombudsman
that he was OK, you can be sure that his lodge would have felt at
least equally strongly. The Masons in the lodge would not
have wanted to think ill of him and would therefore have tried to
protect him from allcomers."
Social pressures make it difficult for an honest
Mason to complain about criminal or immoral conduct by his brothers,
said Mr Short. In fact, it would be the complainant,
not the wrongdoers, who faced ostracism and probable exclusion from
Mr Short said Masonry was an organisation of men
only who voluntarily swear mutual aid and to guard each other's
secrets: it has its own strict rules, inquiry systems, punishments
and courts of appeal. He said that when it became known he
was researching his book he lost count of the brethren who cautioned
him to "watch out" or "take care".
Mr Short went on: "One man whose evidence
sent a fellow Mason to jail told me of his fears during that trial
and the extreme precautions he had taken to stay alive. He
advised me to do the same."
Mr Short's 711-page book lists some of the reasons
why he was inclined to take the advice seriously. It
also lists some of the bizarre initiation ceremonies of Masonry.
Mr Short, for example, describes a Masonic lodge in Lincolnshire
where a candidate Mason is lowered into a trap below the temple
floor on the Friday before full moon to confront a female skeleton
as a symbol of mortality.
Several traditional crafts and professions are
bastions of Freemasonry, Mr Short argues. In his book he points
to the example of the Metropolitan Police where, in 1987, he identified
one assistant commissioner, two deputy assistant commissioners,
12 commanders, 23 chief superintendents and seven chief inspectors
as members of a single Masonic lodge.
[Ed ~ Thomas Hamilton was accused
by Tam Dalyell MP of being a police informer. LINK]
Mr Short argues that Freemasonry extends into local
government, the armed services, industry and the intelligent services
to an extent that would astonish non-Masons. He says
100,000, or one in 14 of Scotland's working population, are Freemasons.