Dunblane killer was 'blacklisted' after chaotic trip

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The Independent Online
Concerns about Thomas Hamilton might have been raised earlier if a central register of adults working with children had existed inside Britain's Scout movement, the Dunblane inquiry in Stirling heard yesterday.

The call for a central register of all adults with records of working with children was made by David Shelmerdine, chief executive of the Scout movement in Scotland at the inquiry before Lord Cullen into the massacre of 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March.

Mr Shelmerdine gave details of the withdrawal of the Scout master's warrant from Hamilton, who had had links with the movement since 1973.

He said that in 1974, following a chaotic trip to Aviemore on which Hamilton was in charge and failed to organise proper accommodation, the Scout movement had "blacklisted" Hamilton.

Years of complaints, including letters to the Scouts, followed. In 1983 Stirling's local authority ombudsman upheld a complaint by Hamilton that he was being unjustly treated by Central region which had cancelled lets in school properties for the boys clubs he ran.

In evidence from the Scout association, Central region had been informed that Hamilton had "certain undesirable characteristics", but no formal framework for putting such information on record existed outside the Scouts.

Over the next decade investigations into Hamilton's background continued. By June 1993 Central police's child protection unit in Bannock Burn was investigating allegations that Hamilton had held photographs of young boys in swimming trunks. However, the police uncovered no evidence.

The Scout Association has around 80,000 leaders in Scotland, and double that apply for the posts, Mr Shelmerdine said. Access to criminal records occurred "only in very exceptional circumstances". To tighten the controls over adults working with children, he suggested a "central agency", which "might have raised concerns earlier".

After the slaughter of primary one class at Dunblane in the school gymnasium, Mr Shel-merdine said Scout leaders had been "deeply affected." He said: "More than one Scout leader said to me 'If Hamilton had a grudge against individuals within the association, why oh why did he not kill me rather than all those young children?'"