Tel/Fax: 01620 892489
Mr. Stephen Bruce,
Head of Public Records Policy Branch,
Constitution & Parliamentary Secretariat,
Freedom of Information Unit,
I thank you for your letter of 22nd ult. and hope
you had an enjoyable time over the Festive Season.
I enclose a copy of a letter I sent to the Minister
for Justice on 30th May 2005 as all correspondence since stems from
Ms. Byrne, as officials have now been forced to
admit, agreed in her letter of 15th June 2005 that the Public Records
Act 1958 does not apply legislatively to Scotland but that the terms
of the Act are applied to the management of Scotland’s public
records on an administrative basis. Ms. Byrne informed me that
this was the policy of the Scottish Executive as a whole, not the
Lord Advocate in isolation, so there was no question of him acting
outside the terms of his authority.
Stating that it was the policy
of the Scottish Executive in no way explained where the authority
came from to permit them to adopt such a policy. The Lord Advocate
may be following the policy of the Scottish Executive but it is open
to question whether he is indeed acting within the law when there
appears to be no legal basis for the action taken. LINK
[Ed ~ The Public Petitions Committee
of the Scottish Parliament conveniently chose to follow the instructions
of the Lord Advocate LINK
when confronted with my (William Burns') petition PE652. LINK]
Ms. Byrne seems to believe since the terms of the
1958 Act have been used in Scotland for some time and brought to Scotland
the “good practice” operating throughout the rest of the
UK that I should be satisfied with her explanation. As
is clear from further correspondence this is not the case.
On 6th July 2005 Ms. Byrne wrote “the Scottish
Executive is not required to enact legislation to adopt administrative
practices”. She again pointed out the benefits of
the 1958 Act. In my reply I suggested that she appeared to be
saying that there was no limit to the powers of the Scottish Executive.
I requested an explanation as to why the Westminster Parliament felt
it necessary to pass legislation before applying the powers contained
in the Public Records Act 1958 and yet in Scotland this was not required.
I was also interested in how far these powers held by the Scottish
Executive could be extended.
The next letter I received from Ms. Byrne was dated
7th October 2005. She suggested I contact the UK Government
to enquire why they felt it necessary to legislate in 1958.
I replied on the 14th. I pointed out, which should have been
clear to her, that I had no interest whatsoever in why the UK Government
felt it necessary to legislate in 1958. I wished to know how
the Scottish Executive was able to take powers that required an Act
of Parliament before these same powers could be applied in England
and Wales. I referred to her letter of 15th June 2005 in
which she wrote, “However I should clarify that this is the
policy of the Scottish Executive as a whole”, and asked where
the authority came from to impose a 100-year closure order on 106
productions to the Cullen Inquiry into the Dunblane tragedy since
the Scottish Executive did not exist at that time. I closed
that letter with, “I am a Scot residing in Scotland so the decisions
of the Scottish Executive can have an effect on my life. I therefore
feel that I have every right to know where the authority comes from
to allow the Executive to make decisions without reference to any
elected body as you state they are entitled to do in your letter of
6th July 2005.”
You, as all officials I have communicated with since
November 1999 have done, took up a lot of space in your letter of
4th November 2005 describing administrative processes, but nowhere
do you clearly state where the authority came from to allow closure.
You stated that in 1962 the Scottish Office decided
to apply the same closure periods as were applied in England. Where
is it written that the Scottish Office had the right to do so?
You claim that records management is essentially
a routine administrative matter but where is that written down and
what guidelines describe what is a “routine administrative matter”?
You describe the meeting at which the decision was
taken to apply a 100-year closure but not where the authority came
from to allow closure. Lord Cullen in a letter to me wrote
“those attending that meeting did not have the authority, individually
or collectively, to impose closure. LINK
Since the decision to impose closure was taken at that meeting and
Lord Cullen has made clear that those attending that meeting had no
authority to impose closure where did the authority come from?
In your letter of 22nd ult. you wrote, “it
would not be appropriate for me to comment on the authority of those
who imposed a 100-year closure on the Dunblane Inquiry papers.”
This after arguing at length that the Lord Advocate, the Scottish
Office and the Scottish Executive have every right to administer routine
matters as they see fit.
In that case is it true that you do not consider
the closure of the Dunblane Inquiry papers to be a “routine
administrative matter” and that closure required specific authority?
I look forward to hearing from you.
William W Scott
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * *
William W Scott wrote to his MSP, John Home Robertson,
on 8 February 2006 with extremely relevant information. In characteristically
political fashion, Mr Robertson merely "noted" the content.
Why are all our political representatives frightened to stand up and
be counted on our behalf? Mr Scott wrote back to Mr Robertson
on 20 February 2006. The information he gave him is summarised
below. He was assured it can be verified. He also let
him know that he thought he would have done more than just note the
contents, adding that he trusts he will now give it some serious thought.
On the evening of the day of the [Dunblane] Massacre,
Dr Beattie, a consultant paediatrician, informed journalists at a
news conference that he did not see Thomas Hamilton’s body.
This he confirmed in his evidence to the Inquiry when he stated that
there was one dead body in the gymnasium and it was that of Mrs. Mayor
Thomas Hamilton’s body was there later in the
day as it was examined by an explosives expert. To try to solve
the problem of the "missing body", Mr Scott wrote to Dr
Beattie, asking him if he could confirm that the body of Thomas Hamilton
was not in the gym. This confirmation was in accordance
with what he appeared to tell newspaper reporters and what he testified
at the Inquiry.
Although Mr Scott was not sure where Dr Beattie was
working, he wrote to Yorkhill Hospital where he knew he was a one-time
member of the staff. No reply was received so he did not
know whether Dr Beattie had moved or the letter had not been delivered.
Mr Scott sent reminders. When there was still no response he
sent an e-mail to Yorkhill containing a request to whoever read it
to please inform him if Dr Beattie was on the staff or not.
This produced a most aggressive response from Dr
Beattie. He threatened William W Scott with harassment charges
if he or any of his "group" made any attempt to correspond
with him again. A threat of "harassment"?
Mr Scott sent him but one letter. There would have been no reminders
if Dr Beattie had shown a little common courtesy and answered it. And
how did he come up with the comment of Mr Scott's "group"?
His letter gave no indication that others were involved. He
disclosed that he did in fact send copies of correspondence to a number
of people, who will also receive a copy of his latest letter, but
in no way can they be described as a group working together.
[Ed ~ Whether these characters like
it or not, the common good is more important than personal idiosyncrysies.
In any event, what judge could now support idle threats from people
trying to suppress the truth in the light of the monumentally larger
concern that is the Cullen Inquiry whitewash?]
Dr Beattie also said that his reason for not replying
was because he did not want to fuel conspiracy theories. Mr
Scott never mentioned any suspicions. He just requested an answer
to a simple question. If the body was there in the gym at 10.15am
many, but not all, of the theories surrounding Hamilton’s death
could not be sustained. However, since Dr Beattie stated the
body wasn’t there then it must be asked why was it moved.
Since Dr Beattie was no help, William W Scott wrote
to Mr. Haire, a member of the first ambulance crew to arrive at the
school. He phoned Mr Scott and had a long friendly conversation.
Right at the start he told Mr Scott that his superior at Callandar
had told him he could give him no information due to the terms of
the Data Protection Act. Mr. Haire gave the impression that
he would like to help and before ringing off gave Mr. Scott the name
and address of one of his senior officers in Stirling who he thought
might be able to assist him.
Before Mr. Scott could write to Mr. Wemyss in Stirling,
a letter arrived from Mr. Gordon, the General Manager of the Scottish
Ambulance Service in East Central Scotland, informing Mr. Scott that
he must make no further attempt to speak to Mr. Haire. Why was
Mr Scott's letter sent from Callandar to the top of the tree in Dundee,
bypassing Mr. Wemyss? After all, Mr. Haire recommended
that Mr Scott should contact Mr Wemyss. Mr Scott told Mr Gordon
that he employed Mr Haire but did not own him. He agreed,
but Mr Scott still did not get an answer to his question.
In this letter to his MSP, John Home Robertson, Mr
Scott posed the question: "Why are they all being so secretive
about the whereabouts of Hamilton’s body?"
The statement written by the off-duty police officer
who was first on the scene, other than school staff, was not put before
the Inquiry, nor was he called to appear in person. The statement
is not among the papers lodged with the National Archives of Scotland
and it was probably intended that it be kept hidden for a further
90 years; but for whatever reason it was released by Central Scotland
It is not surprising that it was not produced as
evidence as it states there were two pistols [Ed
~ The officer said in his statement to Central Scotland Police that
the guns he saw were not revolvers. LINK]
beside Hamilton’s body, that he was wearing one holster and
that he was dressed in a dark boiler suit. The evidence presented
to the Inquiry stated there were two pistols and two revolvers, one
of which Hamilton used to shoot himself, four holsters were strapped
on and he was wearing dark corduroy trousers. It
would appear that Hamilton shot himself with a gun that was not in
the gym at the time of his death. Do you not agree
that is a rather difficult thing to do!
The decision to impose a 100-year closure order
was taken at a meeting on 13th January 1997. At that meeting
were the Clerk to the Inquiry and representatives of the Scottish
Records Office, the Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal
Service. None of those present or those they were representing
had the authority, individually or collectively, to impose a closure
order. [Ed ~ According to Hansard,
it was Lord Cullen who concluded on 12 May 1998 that a 100-year closure
order would be put on the files. LINK
So did this meeting on 13 January 1997 actually take place
or was it an invention to allow Cullen to distance himself from the
nonstatutory order?] The Advocate General for Scotland
has stated categorically that “under Scots law there is no legislation
which provides for a hundred year closure.” Baroness Clark
of Calton QC goes on to explain that understanding of the way in which
closure of public records is operated is not the same as legislation.
If this is the case, and one would think that the Advocate General
would be fully aware of Scots law, why was a 100-year closure imposed
and why are some papers still to be hidden for a further 90 years?
[Ed ~ Read exchanges
between the Lord Advocate and John Home Roberston MSP and William
W Scott and John Home Robertson MSP, LINK.
Read the letter from the Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee
Mohammad Sarwar MP to William W Scott, LINK.]