Newspaper apology over Dunblane claim

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The Independent Online

The former Nato secretary general George Robertson yesterday won an apology from a Sunday newspaper which published a claim on its website that he had been involved in a cover-up over the Dunblane massacre.

An entry on the Sunday Herald discussion forum website alleged that Lord Robertson had signed a firearms certificate for Thomas Hamilton, the former scoutmaster who shot dead 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School on 14 March 1996. It also alleged that Lord Robertson had been involved in a subsequent cover-up.

The claims were submitted by an unidentified contributor.

As well as apologising for the report, the newspaper also agreed to pay damages to the former defence secretary.

Lord Robertson said: "I am glad the paper's management has accepted their misjudgment by settling this action."

Campbell Deane, Lord Robertson's lawyer, said: "This case highlights the dangers of operating a website without being fully aware of the legal risks and responsibilities."

The Sunday Herald said it had brought down the forum and apologised to Lord Robertson within minutes of his complaint.