Police officers sue over Dunblane

TWO WOMEN police constables who claim they received just one hour of counselling following the Dunblane massacre are suing their force for pounds 800,000, it emerged yesterday.

It was also disclosed that about pounds 3m in damages had already been paid in compensation to 139 people who had been affected by the tragedy.

The two women, one of whom has retired on medical grounds while the other is off on long-term sick leave, say that they suffered psychological problems as a result of the 1996 killings, in which 16 children and their teacher where shot dead by Thomas Hamilton in the small Scottish town.

The women, aged 26 and 30, of Central Scotland Police, say that they were sent to Dunblane school shortly after Hamilton struck. One of them guarded the school gate, meeting distressed parents. Both women eventually went into the gym, where the dead and injured were lying, and were later involved in assisting families of the children.

The officers, who have not been named, are each suing for pounds 400,000, claiming that the force failed to provide them with adequate counselling to help them overcome the trauma that they suffered. Proceedings have been commenced against Chief Constable William Wilson. It is alleged that Mr Wilson was negligent in not providing a critical incident stress debriefing.

The solicitor representing the two officers, Ian Watson, said: "We take the view that the stress counselling received by both officers was totally inadequate."

He added that he feared both their careers could be ruined by the psychological effects of the trauma.

The case is believed to be the first action by a police officer against his or her force in relation to Dunblane.

In December, the House of Lords ruled that four police officers who had suffered severe mental trauma as a result of treating dying fans on the pitch at the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster were not entitled to compensation.

In a majority decision, the Law Lords overturned a Court of Appeal decision in 1996 that the officers should receive damages after being exposed, by the admitted negligence of South Yorkshire Police, to "excessively horrific events such as were likely to cause psychiatric illness even in a police officer".

Yesterday's legal action follows a row earlier in the week about the level of compensation paid to the Dunblane victims' families.

Christine McSkimming, the grandmother and legal guardian of a schoolgirl who was shot twice in the incident, described a pounds 4,500 pay-out she had received from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority as a "slap in the face".

Her granddaughter, Aimie Adam, now eight, suffered a damaged sciatic nerve and a shattered foot.

The authority has dealt with 203 applications for compensation so far, rejecting 64 and paying out about pounds 3m to 139 claimants. A further 111 cases have yet to be dealt with.

A spokesman for Victim Support Scotland said that the needs of the injured and the victim's families should be addressed before those of professionals who had served at the scene of the massacre.

"In a sense, the issue is that they [the two WPCs] can do whatever they want and can sue whomever they want," he said.

"But if they were to get that money, we would perceive that as being a little unfair... I am aware that there is a certain amount of disquiet at the levels of those awards in the Dunblane community."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Offshore Wind Package Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: T...

Subsea Cables Installation Project Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Subsea Cables Installation Project Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Head of Offshore Operations & Interfaces

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices