Hello,yes it's once again,(not for the last time.) going over old ground about this massacre,which occured in the town of Dunblane,in Scotland,11 years ago.However,there have been new developments,in the truth surrounding the accuracy of events,on the 13th March 1996. A Special Report into the events leading to the Dunblane Massacre on 13 March 1996, produced by The Sportsman's Association Foreword by Frank Cook MP Following the Dunblane tragedy in 1996 - and grievous tragedy it was most certainly - thousands of pistol shooters in this country were pilloried by the press and politicians. The result was that innocent people were found guilty of a crime they did not commit and, as a result, have since had their sport outlawed and their property confiscated. During the passage of the two 1997 Firearms Acts - one introduced by the Conservatives, the other by New Labour - pistol shooters were dismissed, smeared and branded as a cranky gun lobby. Shooters, many of whom had represented their country very successfully in international competitions, including the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, became an easy target for gesture politics. They were made to bear the blame which should have rightly been placed elsewhere. This report documents how public anger in the aftermath of the shootings was directed wrongly. Thomas Hamilton's crimes were not committed by Britain's 57,000 pistol shooters, but would have been prevented if the Central Scotland Police had applied the then firearms laws consistently, effectively, professionally and with the kind of judgement we have a right to expect. It draws on extracts from the official report into the shootings produced by Lord Cullen and so far unpublished transcripts of the enquiry, together with evidence either not given to, or apparently ignored by, Lord Cullen. The picture painted by this report demonstrates graphically how small, unintended misjudgements and oversights combined to produce a horror that the parents of Dunblane will never forget. It is time the public were given the full facts about that tragedy. And it is on that basis I commend this report not just to shooters but to all those who care about the truth, the civil rights of minorities and, more importantly, to all those who care that Governments use power carefully, responsibly and with proper deliberation. The Police Failings Two types of failings are catalogued under sections One and Two in this report. Section One concerns police failures to carry out any 'proper checks' when Hamilton applied for a Firearms Certificate Section Two concerns the police failings which allowed Hamilton to possess guns despite being an 'unfit person'. Section One - Proper Checks Failing Number One The first failing was probably the most far reaching. If proper checks had been made by the police from the outset, Hamilton would never have been allowed to buy a pistol and ammunition. Police suspicions about his character and dependability would have also been aroused to such an extent that they would never have dreamt of giving him a Certificate thereafter. Thomas Hamilton's first application for a Firearms Certificate was made on 5 February 1977, nearly twenty years before the Dunblane tragedy when he sought permission to buy a .22 rimfire target pistol and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Ever since 1920, every Firearms Act has required prospective owners to show 'good reason' why they should be allowed to purchase a gun. In most instances, the only acceptable reason to the police for owning guns was full membership of a legitimate shooting club where applicants could be closely vetted and taught how to shoot in a safe and responsible manner. On paper, Thomas Hamilton seemed to be well qualified. In answer to Question 15 on his 1977 Firearm Certificate Application Form - "Where do you intend to use the firearms?" Hamilton replied: "Callander Rifle and Pistol Club, or other suitable clubs and ranges". But it was a lie. In his evidence to the Cullen Inquiry, Raymond Reid, the secretary of Callander Rifle & Pistol club said that Hamilton had never been a member in 1977, had never applied for membership in 1977 and that the first time that he had attempted to join the club was just a few weeks before the Dunblane shootings in 1996.To underline the point, Reid also told the Inquiry that when Hamilton tried to join the club in 1996 he never mentioned any previous alleged membership of the club. Yet Hamilton's claim to be a member of the Callander Club was the MOST important fact that should have been checked by the police before his application was approved. Tragically, he was never asked to produce his membership card to the officer who was supposed to carry out the formal investigation into his background and character; and neither the Chairman nor the Secretary of the club were asked to verify Hamilton's alleged membership by the officer who approved Hamilton's application. Police systems were obviously inadequate. Right from the outset Hamilton was allowed to get away with a lie that he then built on again and again. Summary Hamilton lied when he applied for his first Firearms Certificate (FAC). Sadly the Police never checked his claim to be a full member of a local pistol club. If this claim had been checked Hamilton would have been exposed as a liar and never allowed to own a firearm. Failing Number Two If the first failing was bad, the next was inexplicable. On Feb 20 1977 Hamilton bought his first gun, a .22 rimfire Vostock semi-automatic pistol. Although developed for the Russian Olympic team, it was not an easy gun to shoot. Less than a month after buying the pistol, Hamilton took it to a Glasgow dealer, Bruce Waugh, and successfully exchanged it for a .22 rimfire Smith and Wesson revolver. This transaction was illegal. Guns cannot be swapped like stamps or conkers. Sales and exchange of firearms are subject to strict legal procedures, none of which were followed in this case. Hamilton did not have police permission to buy the Smith and Wesson. His Firearm Certificate only covered the Vostock. Waugh had no right to sell him the gun without a prior variation to Hamilton's Firearm Certificate. This illegal transaction ought to have been investigated. Instead, it appears nothing was done. According to Waugh he told Hamilton that he could not swap the Vostock for the Smith & Wesson without prior police permission. Rather he advised Hamilton to return to Stirling and seek such consent. But Hamilton was reluctant to do this. According to a letter written by Waugh to a researcher for this study dated the 26 August 1997: "He (Hamilton) complained of a heavy workload and said it would be nearly impossible for him to get back to see us for some time and asked if we would phone Central Scotland Police to request, under these circumstances, whether they would give us authority to exchange guns at the time of visit. I believe we received such authority and having completed the necessary paperwork we stressed that Mr Hamilton should take his Firearm Certificate into Central Scotland Police, either on his way home, or at latest early the next day so that the appropriate entries.... could be made to his Certificate by his police force". Hamilton did nothing of the kind. He neither contacted the police nor visited them to report this exchange. At the same time there seems to have been no police follow up to the alleged over-the-phone variation or even a file note made at the time. Worse was to come. On 6 April 1977 the gun dealer notified the Stirling Police of Hamilton's sale/purchase of the Vostock/Smith & Wesson. Again nothing happened to either men. If proper procedures had been followed at this stage, that information ought to have been logged, checked against Hamilton's file - where the discrepancy between the gun stated on his certificate (the Vostock) and the gun now known to be in his possession (the Smith & Wesson) would have been discovered - and immediate action taken againt both men. Surprisingly, Lord Cullen made no comment about these events in his report. Summary The police failed to check their records after Waugh had informed them that Hamilton had purchased a gun illegally. Failing Number Three The illegal purchase of the Smith & Wesson revolver eventually came to light four months later when Hamilton applied to buy another gun. On an application dated 19/8/77 Hamilton admitted ownership of the Smith & Wesson and sought permission to buy a .22 rifle and a .22 semi-automatic pistol, again citing membership of the Callander club. What did the police do when they discovered Hamilton had broken the law? A file note attached to his August application and signed 'A.MacKay Insp' dated 26/8/77, speaks for itself. "Hamilton seen and warned verbally by me on 26/8/77 that he should not have acquired the .22 Smith & Wesson revolver without first applying for a variation of Certificate. Hamilton fully accepts responsibility but states he was misinformed by the firearms dealer in Glasgow regarding proper procedure. Existing certificate will now require deleting all reference to .22 Vostok pistol. This matter was reported by PC Anderson, Stirling, at which time (6.4.77) the necessary amendment should have been made to this certificate". Although Hamilton was let off by Inspector MacKay, it still might have been prudent for the police to have checked his version of the transaction with Mr Waugh, if only to discover who was telling the truth about the exchange. After all, if Hamilton was telling the truth that he was misinformed by Waugh about the proper procedures, perhaps Waugh had made similar mistakes on other occasions. In short, were there other firearms floating around Glasgow that were unrecorded and unreported? Or maybe it was Hamilton who was lying? That Waugh had indeed told him to report the transaction to the police the moment he got home but that Hamilton had chosen to ignore the advice. What kind of person would do such a thing? And what else might he have done? If there had been a proper investigation of this incident at the time perhaps other lies, like Hamilton's alleged membership of the Callander Club, might also have been uncovered. And what about police procedures in the case? Was it usual for Firearms Certificates to be varied over the phone in the way that Waugh and Hamilton alleged? If it happened why wasn't a file note kept of the conversation? Implicitly the police seem to have accepted that something was said between Waugh and a relevant officer. But what and with whom? And why wasn't there an immediate follow up to PC Anderson's report on 6/4/77? What we can be sure of is that, in just a few months, Hamilton had: 1. Lied about his membership of the Callander club. 2. Lied about what the Glasgow gun dealer had allegedly told him and 3.Failed to notify the police about the sale and purchase of a pistol, contrary to the Firearms Act. If the police had enforced the then existing legislation rigorously, carried out the checks required of them and implemented the law as it stood at the time, Hamilton's Firearms Certificate could have been revoked for any one of these deceptions or failings. Without a Firearm Certificate, Hamilton would have been obliged to dispose of his firearms and would have been unable legally to acquire any further firearms. Summary Hamilton was allowed to get away with the illegal firearms exchange. All he received was a verbal warning. No proper investigation into this illegal exchange was ever mounted. Failing Number Four In November 1979 Hamilton applied for a further variation to his Firearms Certificate. He wanted more powerful guns. Once again, few checks seem to have been made and the following month he was given permission to purchase a .357 Magnum revolver and a .270 rifle to hold 100 rounds of ammunition for each firearm and to purchase or acquire 50 rounds for each at any one time. Both guns were bought over the next two days. The .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver was the firearm he later used to kill himself. The rifle was sold before his death. On this occasion Hamilton did not plead membership of Callander Rifle & Pistol Club as his "good reason" for wanting firearms. Rather he stated that he was a member of the Dunblane Rifle Club and that he was awaiting membership of the Clyde Valley Pistol Club (CVPC). In fact, he seems to have gone further, avoiding any mention of the Callander Club whatsoever. Reading the application it was as if Hamilton had never been a member of the club. Yet no-one in the police seems to have made any checks with the Callander Club secretary about whether Hamilton had resigned or had been kicked out. Once again there seems to have been a willingness to accept anything that Hamilton said at face value. Nor is it obvious that he even belonged to the new clubs he cited. Membership records of the CVPC were removed by the police in the aftermath of the Dunblane tragedy. Unfortunately it is not clear whether they were returned intact. The CVPC's records were, anyway, incomplete. A change of secretary in the mid-1980s had resulted in the loss of some club books. Other uncertainties exist. Even so, despite travels by a researcher for this study, there is no record in the club cash record books from 12th December 1979 to 13th February 1981 of Hamilton having bought ammunition at the club, paid a range fee at the club or having bought a cup of coffee at the club. The first record we could find of Hamilton at the CVPC is a signature in the visitors' book on the 23rd October 1984; almost five years after he was supposed to have applied for membership. Members of CVPC interviewed for this study have no recollection of Hamilton having shot with them. In particular, they have no recollection of him belonging to the club or attending the club at the time he was seeking a variation to his Firearm Certificate permitting an upgrade to full-bore target shooting. On the other hand, the police claim to have evidence confirming his membership of the club. Lord Cullen is unusually imprecise on these points using the words "probably" and "perhaps" respectively (Cullen para 6.30) about Hamilton's alleged membership of the Dunblane Rifle CLub and the Clyde Valley Pistol Club during this period. Summary No check was made into why Hamilton had apparently left a local pistol club. Had such a check been made earlier misleading statements would have been discovered. Nor is it clear that he ever joined other clubs as he claimed. Even the Cullen report is vague. Failing Number Five More worryingly, there is evidence that even if these membership claims had been true they were still insufficient to constitute a 'good reason' for possessing fullbore firearms as neither the Dunblane Rifle Club nor the Clyde Valley Pistol Club ranges were licensed for anything above .22 calibre. The Range Safety Certificates relating to both the Dunblane Rifle Club and the Clyde Valley Pistol Club (CVPC) only allowed .22 rimfire firearms to be used. There seems to have been no police challenge to Hamilton's claim that membership of these clubs was a compelling 'good reason' to possess fullbore firearms. It appears that Hamilton was given permission to acquire a .357 Smith & Wesson without the authorising officer knowing the limitations applicable to these ranges. Although Lord Cullen made no comment about this application it now appears that not all the facts about this application and its subsequent approval have received the publicity they deserve which has been to the detriment of the shooting sportsmen and women who have consequently lost their sport. Handwriting experts consulted for this study believe that some of Hamilton's written answers on his November 1979 application form are not in his handwriting. It is suggested that sections have been completed by someone else - probably a police officer. There is no mention of this in Lord Cullen's report. Of course, there is probably a wholly innocent explanation for this form filling. Most of us find officialdom difficult. Police officers should not be criticised for helping a member of the public. Whatever the innocence of the explanation, however, it still remains remarkable that nothing has been said about this handwriting discrepancy. Especially, as it now seems that Hamilton could not have used either gun at the clubs or ranges he listed. Summary Neither of the clubs Hamilton claimed to have joined, or was about to join, possessed range facilities for fullbore firearms. Hamilton was allowed to possess guns of a higher calibre than .22, and did not have access to any range in the area on which they could have been used. The police failed to check these facts.