Snowdrop campaign may fold over rows

The Snowdrop campaign to ban handguns, set up after the Dunblane massacre, may be disbanded amid internal acrimony.

The high-profile lobby, which has been credited with a hugely influential campaign to get a government ban on 80 per cent of handguns, is expected to wind up in the near future.

But yesterday two of its members, Jacqueline Walsh and Ann Pearston, were in conflict over the direction of the campaign and accusations of " dictatorial behaviour".

Ms Walsh, 34, a part-time youth worker who became involved in starting the Snowdrop organisation only a few days after Thomas Hamilton's murderous gun attack on a school which claimed the lives of 16 children in March last year, is said to have taken particular exception to Mrs Pearston's involvement in a cinema advert featuring the voice of former James Bond star Sean Connery. He has been associated with the use of firearms throughout his acting career.

Mrs Pearston launched the campaign without consulting other members of Snowdrop. Ms Walsh now wants to call a meeting of the group within two weeks to wind it up.

Mrs Pearston also wants to give up campaigning. But she she believes that it is necessary to continue until after the general election in an attempt to achieve an all-out ban on handguns.

Ms Walsh told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper: "People are asking why go on? This is not just a personal falling out. It's a case of people not being able to let go of their baby. We got all handguns banned from peoples' homes - a lot of people just wanted that - and all handguns over .22 calibre are to go. The gun lobby says a lot of gun clubs will close.

"We have come a long way and the social climate is changing. A total handgun ban will eventually come, we have set the process in motion.

"Ann and I have been friends for years but I am unhappy with her continuing to use the Snowdrop name. We have had quite a few arguments recently. Speaking out might mean the end of our friendship but you can't sit back forever and watch something you have been involved with go drastically wrong. "

Mrs Pearston said: " one final push " was required before the general election in order to bring about a total ban.

She added: "Jackie wanted the campaign to stop at Christmas and I respect her view but surely for the sake of a few more weeks it's worth going on? I want to get off this train, but not just yet".