Home Robertson MSP
The Town House
Thank you for your letter of 15 July 2006.
Are you aware that the matters raised by Mr Scott have already been the subject of lengthy correspondence both from officials of COPES and myself? I have provided Mr Scott with an explanation as to how the decision was taken to impose a closure period of 100 years on the documents to the Dunblane Inquiry. I am also aware that he does not accept the explanation provided to him and in the circumstances there is nothing further that I can add.
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Tel/Fax: 01620 892489
Home Robertson, MSP.,
The Town House,
Dunbar, EH42 1ER.
Dear Mr Robertson
I thank you for your letter of 22nd inst.
I cannot deny that there has been lengthy correspondence as the Lord Advocate states but surely the opinion of Ms. Lynda Clark should be treated with more respect. He claims correctly that he has provided me with an explanation as to how the decision was taken to impose a closure period of 100 years on the documents to the Dunblane Inquiry however that is not the same as making clear where the authority came from to impose the closure order.
The lengthy correspondence referred to includes many pages detailing the legislation under which the Inquiry was set up. That information was never requested. He and his officials sent a more or less standard letter to all who enquired about the 100-year closure. After explaining the setting up the letter described guidelines and criteria which are used to administer closures.
Mr. Boyd was content to allow you and others to believe that there was statutory authority for the closure until he was forced to admit that there was no such authority. He had no other choice after the Keeper of the Records of Scotland informed me that there was no statutory basis for the closure.
The Lord Advocate has said that there is no document to give authority for the closure. It is strange that papers can be hidden for 100 years without some form of written authority. The decision to impose the closure order was taken at a meeting on 13th January 1997. At that meeting was the Clerk to the Inquiry and representatives of the Scottish Records Office, the Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Lord Cullen in a letter to me wrote that those who attended that meeting did not have the authority, individually or collectively, to impose a closure order.
Ms. Lynda Clark QC as well as stating that "under Scots law there is no legislation which provides for a hundred year closure" also wrote "that understanding of the way in which closure of public records is operated is not the same as legal authority."
Mr. Leolin Price QC wrote "in recent years guidance, guidelines and the like are issued by departments and treated as if they are law; but they are not."
If the Lord Advocate is challenging the views of these learned people, as it appears to me that he most definitely is, then he should publicly say so and give his reasons for so doing.
I trust you will help to clarify this matter.
William W Scott
[Ed ~ To read William W Scott's letter to the Freedom of Information Unit, and other info', click here. To read letter from the Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee Mohammad Sarwar MP and William W Scott, click here.]
Telephone: 0131 226 2626
Fax (GP3): 0131 226 6910
OUR REF: 0408/06M
16 August 2006