Dunblane conman on the run in Holland

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The Independent Online
The man who duped families of children killed in the Dunblane massacre over an anti-gun charity may never be prosecuted.

Convicted fraudster William Bernson, provoked public outrage when it was revealed that he had involved the unwitting families in his Society Against Guns in Europe (SAGE) without revealing his criminal record, and after lying about his name and background.

Police and the Charity Commission immediately launched investigations into the charity, which had used photographs of Dunblane victim Emily Crozier in an emotive advertising campaign to ban all handguns.

But now Essex police admit that, while the inquiry is continuing, they have not spoken to him - and have no plans to pursue Bernson to his new address in the Netherlands.

Detective Inspector Roy Fenning, of the force's fraud squad, told The Independent: "We do not have the resources to go around after everyone. We are not going to be calling on him while he is in Holland. If he returns, he will be spoken to."

DI Fenning said that while they appreciated the emotions involved, the alleged offence for which they wanted to question Bernson was "quite minor". The conman, who ran the charity using the name Dr Tobias Bernstein, insists he will never return to this country.

Police want to interview Bernson, who was given a two-year sentence after admitting three charges, including trying to defraud a creditor and for allegedly becoming a trustee of a charity without declaring his criminal record, a non-arrestable offence.

Meanwhile, singer Bob Dylan has given his blessing for one of his songs to be recorded as part of the campaign to ban handguns following the massacre, in which 16 schoolchildren and one teacher died.

The recording of Dylan's anthem "Knocking on Heaven's Door" will be performed by local musicians and the last verse will be sung by Dunblane's 1,000 children.

Local musician Ted Christopher came up with the new version of the 1974 hit, with new lyrics, borrowed partly from Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shephard.

The new second verse is:

Lord, these guns have caused too much pain,

This town will never be the same.

So, for the bairns of Dunblane,

We ask, please, never again.

Any profits from the project will go to help starving children around the world, said John Crozier, father of Emily.

Dunblane will come to a standstill on Wednesday as the victims of mass killer, Thomas Hamilton, are remembered at a memorial event in the cathedral. It will be the first time that all the families of victims have got together at one service. They will be joined by the Prince of Wales, representing the Royal Family, Scottish Secretary and the local MP, Michael Forsyth and Labour's George Robertson.