How did Jim fix it so that his child abuse was never examined?
As was the case with Thomas Hamilton after the Dunblane tragedy, many people seem to have known about Savile’s abuse, but why was nothing done about it at the time it was taking place?
Did whistleblowers try to get the authorities to act? Or were they put off by his obvious power and influence?
The initial rumours suggested that only one police force, the Surrey Constabulary had investigated an allegation of abuse against Savile in the 1970s, which could not be substantiated.
But then other tales began to emerge about victims of Savile’s abuse being interviewed, but nothing further happening because of who the allegations were against. There are also accounts of victims not complaining because of the prospect of not being believed, due to the power of the alleged abuser.
I find these stories credible. Sir James Winston Vincent Savile, OBE, KCSG was a powerful and influential man, a friend of royalty, world and religious leaders, whereas his victims were mainly children of the opposite sex who were poles apart from Savile in terms of status within the establishment. To me this would explain how hundreds could be criminally assaulted without any action being taken by the forces of law and order.
Although we are all supposed to be equal under the law my experience is that the great and good, titled and influential people, will be treated deferentially by most people including the police and politicians.
I believe most people know this and an ordinary Jane or Joe would be loath to make allegations against the great and good due to the knowledge that those who would assess their complaints would be (either consciously or sub-consciously) biased against a commoner.
In addition to the class/power differential between accuser and accused there is another aspect that prevents complainants coming forward: The fear that a victim of abuse might not be believed can be compounded if/when that victim, damaged by such abuse, goes on to become involved in self-harm, drug abuse, or other crimes. As an addict/criminal, the damaged child could then be portrayed as being unreliable as a truthful witness.
Parallels between Savile & Thomas Hamilton?
The fear of not being believed as described by the victims of Savile’s abuse may have echoes in the Dunblane tragedy and the charmed life led by Thomas Hamilton.
Above: Prince Charles and Sir Jimmy Savile (pictured with deputy Lord lieutenant Iain Thornber) at Glencoe in 1999.
At the Dunblane Public Inquiry that followed the mass murder of children at Dunblane Primary School the evidence of one anonymous victim of Thomas Hamilton’s sexual abuse on board his cabin cruiser, (Hamilton had two boats the large cabin cruiser, Tropical Linda and the smaller speed boat Lady Sheila, both said to have been bought from the police at unrealistically low prices), at Loch Lomond was traduced by the Lord Advocate’s representative LINK to such an extent that Lord Cullen in his Report concluded that he “ did not find this allegation to have been proved” LINK and in effect allowed Thomas Hamilton to be considered to have been a decent man, with no proven history of sexual abuse!
This revisionism had the effect of giving a post mortem character reference for Thomas Hamilton, signed by Lord Cullen, despite the fact that his abuse of boys at his Loch Lomond camps was well known and had been reported to the police. These and other incidents had made him known to half the police forces in Scotland and had seen him dismissed from the Scout movement.
So to disbelieve disturbed children – who have been damaged by sexual abuse – about the details of the abuse that caused them to be damaged, would appear to be part of a vicious circle of protection for abusers.
“Who would believe you? You are damaged goods!” was probably spoken by Hamilton and Savile to silence any prospective complainants.
The discrediting of the anonymous statement from the abused boy, now a man, of abuse, continued at the Dunblane Public Inquiry, which also discounted his evidence of having fired real bullets from rifles at a hut in Dunblane, that may have been the indoor shooting range at Queen Victoria School. Lord Cullen did not even mention this aspect of evidence in his report.
Lord Cullen did, however, see fit to inform the public in his Report published in September 1996, that the anonymous witness was jailed in August 1996…. a month after the Inquiry closed.
Such scenarios as those highlighted above might seem fanciful to some, but I have personal experience of one aspect. That is: how the establishment can turn a blind eye to allegations of sexual abuse when they come from an ordinary citizen and might implicate the rich and famous; the influential ones at the heart of our establishment.
Allegations of child abuse at a school are brought to my attention.
My one and only experience of reporting child abuse began in 2003 when I was put in contact with Glenn Harrison (The Housemaster), a school teacher in Shetland at that time, who had been a house master in charge of about 60 boys between 11 and 15 years of age at Queen Victoria School, Dunblane between the summer of 1989 and December 1991.
The above video gives an idea of how the school was at that time. At 31 min 12 sec Housemaster Ben Philip discusses corporal punishment with the boys of Haig house.
The Housemaster knew of my interest in freemasonry as I was petitioning the Scottish parliament at the time to have judges and sheriffs make declarations of any secret societies -such as the Masons- that they belonged to. LINK I also knew of his claims from an anonymous Internet article.
The Housemaster told me of how, in about 1990, he believed boys from his then school were being bullied by their peers at the school and sexually abused, both at the school and away from the school. He told me the latter was done by a clique of paedophiles connected with the school (teachers etc. and their friends) and another group of “toffs” who visited the school and took carefully targeted boys away for weekends.
The Housemaster and his wife lived in a flat at the school which was immediately above the main entrance and he said that in the evening they would see big fancy cars (sometimes chauffeur driven and displaying pennants, and badges of office) arrive with well known faces of politicians, judges and other celebrities who, when he enquired as to who they were, and what they were doing, was given the answer that these people were “Friends of QVS” who were taking certain boys out for a treat.
The Housemaster was not comfortable with this situation, which was done, ostensibly at least, for charitable reasons, and he knew the people were influential as some of these strangers he saw were often the same people he and his wife had just seen on the TV News.
The Housemaster told me of how he noticed that certain boys had been taken away for weekends by the “Friends of QVS” and would return to the school in a distressed state, but flush with money. He also told me of hearing noises in the night and on investigating found used condoms in the dormitories.
What also troubled The Housemaster was finding strangers wandering about in the school, in dormitories and other areas which should have been off limits to all but staff and pupils. He complained about this but was again told that these people were “Friends of QVS“.
As a comparative new-boy among the staff The Housemaster felt powerless to influence what appeared to be long established practices at the school. He felt that he was an outsider in many ways in a military school where bullying of younger boys by their older peers was considered a rite of passage.
The Housemaster did not accept the regime at the school which he considered to be at odds with his duties of acting in “loco parentis“. His criticism of the practices at play in the school led to him being seen as a troublesome meddler by his longer serving colleagues and he felt that this growing ostracism was compounded by the fact that he was a non-Mason in a school that was dominated by what he called “Free Masons“.
A teacher helps his pupil flee the school.
The Housemaster said things got so bad that one boy who was a target of the bullies ran away and with The Housemaster’s help hid out in the school grounds until his father – a serviceman in Germany who The Housemaster had contacted – could come and collect his son and take him out of the school.
A staff member helping his own pupils escape from their boarding school seemed almost unbelievable to me. However that was just one of several horrific things related to me by The Housemaster, which among others included stories of one boy trying to hang himself after being abused.
The Housemaster told me that he had taken his suspicions of abuse to Central Scotland police at their Stirling HQ, but they told him that the school was an MOD establishment, and as such was covered by the Official Secrets Act and was outwith their locus. He also went to the social works department of Central Regional Council, but they were equally unhelpful suggesting it was a matter for the police.
The Housemaster said that he continually suggested changes to protect his charges. This was done by way of memos and he also kept a log of events such as unauthorised persons on site etc, but relations got so bad between him, the headmaster, and the brigadier of the school that he tendered the one-term’s notice of his resignation that his contract required. This was on the last day of the summer term of 1991 (19th June).
On his return after the summer break The Housemaster said he continued with his duties and on 11th December 1991 he wrote to the parents of every one of his 57 house charges telling them their children were in danger due to the bullying and abuse that was endemic at the school. He gave them the phone number of Esther Rantzen’s “Childline” and urged the parents to contact it.
The Housemaster explained to me that he hoped that when an investigation was instigated as a result of this drastic action he could then broaden his allegations to sexual abuse, which he was sure had taken place, but had not been witnessed by him.
According to The Housemaster his letter-writing caused a complete breakdown in his relations with the school’s leaders and with just a week of his contract remaining he felt physically threatened by several incidents, including a stone being thrown at his window and the attitude of the school brigadier. Because of this he reported the incident to the police at Dunblane and then went into Stirling. While he was there – he later found out – the police smashed the door of his flat down with a sledgehammer and removed some of his personal belongings and cash.
In his ransacked apartment he found a letter from the headmaster on the floor instructing him to leave the school immediately. The bursar of the school and a policeman arrived and stayed with him while he packed his belongings into a suitcase. He was asked to accompany the policeman to Dunblane police station where he was interviewed for about an hour by an inspector from Stirling and detectives brought from Edinburgh before being allowed to leave.
Ex-housemaster continues his campaign to highlight abuse.
The Housemaster told me how, after leaving Dunblane, he got a job in the northernmost school in the British Isles. While teaching at Baltasound over the next three years he exhausted every possible avenue in a bid to have the practices at his former school investigated.
He said his actions did succeed in getting an in-house review carried out by education authorities, which was published, and questions raised in parliament, but he felt that he had failed in his attempts to highlight the culture of bullying and abuse at Queen Victoria School, and consequently had failed to remedy it. The Housemaster said he did not consider the review to be anything other than a housekeeping exercise as it did not involve him or the parents and in fact he did not even receive a copy of the final report of findings.
The Housemaster said he had exhausted himself in his efforts to bring about change to his old school. He had written to the Duke of Edinburgh, Esthter Rantzen, the Secretary of State for Scotland, his MP, petitioned the European Parliament, all to no avail.
A Friend of QVS, Thomas Hamilton, appears on TV.
The Housemaster said he was resigned to getting on with his life when in 1996 he switched on the TV at his home in Unst Shetland and saw the face of Thomas Hamilton the Dunblane mass murderer, who The Housemaster immediately recognised as one of the “Friends of QVS” and a close friend of another housemaster, Ben Philip who lived in the flat below him at the school.
The Housemaster then said his feelings of failure were compounded as he felt that if he had somehow managed to have the school and its inadequacies investigated thoroughly, then Thomas Hamilton may have been prevented from going on to carry out his murders in the other Dunblane school.
The Housemaster told me that he waited for the phone to ring as there must be an investigation into Thomas Hamilton’s activities at all the schools he was connected with, and the police must surely want to interview him. Lord Cullen (who was appointed on the recommendation of Michael Forsyth, President of Her Majesty’s Commissioners and would himself as Lord Justice Clerk, would soon become, (ex-officio), the senior commissioner at Queen Victoria School called many witnesses, but not The Housemaster.
The Housemaster now wanted me to help him get his story told.
Face to face with The Housemaster.
I had listened to much of this harrowing story in detail over the telephone and it lasted for several nights. The story had the ring of truth to it, but before I would agree to help him I needed to see him face to face to assure myself he was genuine, so I travelled to Unst and spoke to him in person. We talked for hours going over his story and there was no doubt in my mind that he genuinely believed what he had told me to be the truth.
Though he had never personally witnessed boys being sexually abused he was sure it had happened to boys at the school.
The Housemaster gave me a contemporaneous dossier he had compiled while he was at the school, with his commentary and drawings depicting what he saw as the problems at the school. This contained correspondence including the letters he wrote to the parents of his house pupils. The Housemaster stated that much of his writings were missing as some had been taken when the Central Scotland Police had broken into his flat at the school and taken his belongings.
The dossier also contained his post-school efforts to have the affair investigated further.
After having determined that The Housemaster was truthful, I was in the position whereby I had a duty to act on what he had told me, but first I decided to try to establish if there was any corroboration of his main claims.
Investigating The Housemaster claims hits a brick wall as 4 Secretaries of State for Scotland know nothing.
Regarding Thomas Hamilton’s presence at QVS the 4 HMCs relied on the old Scots defence that they “didnae ken”.
My priority was to establish the veracity or otherwise of the claims made to me by The Housemaster, and as a first step write to those legally responsible for the safety and well being of the pupils in a private boarding school, the board of governors, which in this case of Queen Victoria School were Her Majesty’s Commissioners. The head commissioner is an ex-officio post held by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
I wrote to my MP, the late Rachel Squire and asked her to ask the then Secretary of State, Mrs Helen Liddell (Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke), if she was aware of any group such as the “Friends of QVS” that The Housemaster had told me about.
My MP was reluctant to help and asked me for further information so I elaborated on the story that The Housemaster had told me about Thomas Hamilton having a presence at the school and how I was researching this story to establish if there was any truth in it as I intended to use it as evidence in support my petition PE 306.
Despite being aware that The Housemaster had given me credible anecdotal evidence of child abuse and claimed that Thomas Hamilton was one of a group known as the “Friends of QVS“, my MP would not take on my concerns and suggested I contact the Secretary of State directly.
I replied to my MP stressing the seriousness of the allegations made by The Housemaster and copied the letter to the then Secretary of State, Mrs Helen Liddell. By a return e-mail I was told by Mrs Liddell that this had nothing to do with her, as the matters I had raised “are devolved to the Scottish Parliament” and my letter had been forwarded to my MSP Scott Barrie! LINK
I responded to the Secretary of State’s ‘palming-off’ of my enquiry to my MSP by pointing out that she could not shirk her responsibilities as a Chief of Her Majesty’s Commissioners, which were invested in her by Royal Warrant, and in any case her claim that these matters were now devolved could not be considered as devolved matters, as they related to events that pre-dated devolution.
A reply to my letter was eventually sent to me by the Head of Home & Social Division of the Scotland Office who stated that the Secretary of State’s role at QVS was “purely formal” and I should write to the Chief Executive/Headmaster of QVS.
I also wrote to other Secretaries of State who were in office around the time of Glenn Harrison’s allegations. Michael Forsyth (Baron Forsyth of Drumlean who we now know had written a memo to John Major the day after the shootings at Dunblane about having the “right judge” to handle the inquiry, LINK ) palmed me off in the same way that Helen Liddell had done LINK.
However the RT HON Lord Lang of Monkton, DL, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, of the allegations did respond. He said he had an honorary role (President he thought) as a commissioner and had paid one visit to the school between 1991 and 1995. He also said he may have appointed commissioners, but knew nothing about any alleged incidents LINK.
I later realised that Malcolm Rifkind was also a Secretary of State for Scotland between 11 January 1986 – 28 November 1990 and wrote to him, but his response was the same as his colleagues. LINK
I may have asked Mr Rifkind a supplementary question in addition to the three that I had asked the other commissioners as I was aware that his friend and election agent, Robert Bell, had known Thomas Hamilton and had sold him guns and ammunition from his gun shop in Stirling over a number of years. LINK
I found the attitude and ignorance of matters that were on the record in Hansard (Glenn Harrison’s complaints of bullying and abuse at QVS), as well as in the school records and the police log at Dunblane, by the four Secretaries of State for Scotland, puzzling to say the least. LINK
All were senior commissioners at QVS on warrant of Her Majesty the Queen with the responsibility that goes with that role, yet none seemed to know anything about Thomas Hamilton’s influence, or Glenn Harrison’s allegations of bullying and abuse, at QVS, they must have been aware that in 1994 (perhaps tellingly) Lord Wedgewood had raised doubts about the morale at the school and wanted to know how H M Commissioners were appointed. LINK
In order that Alistair Darling, the current Secretary of State (13 June 2003 5 May 2006) was aware of the ignorance and inaction of his predecessors I wrote to him after I had made my police complaint. LINK
Politicians didn’t want to know so perhaps Her Majesty’s Commissioner might?
As it was obvious that the politicians at the head of the pyramid of those with a duty of care for the pupils of QVS, the Presidents of Her Majesty’s Commissioners, past and present, wanted nothing to do with the allegations regarding the presence of Thomas Hamilton, or the alleged abuse of boys at the school, I decided to write to all of the commissioners who had been in office at the time of The Housemaster’s allegations.
I also wrote to the Patron of the school, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and the headmaster at the time of the allegations, also Lord Cullen and Lord George Roberson, who The Housemaster had repeatedly stated, were visitors to the school during his time there.
The list of commissioners I wrote to was like a who’s who of the great and good in the military establishment. My first letter simply and politely asked the commissioners what, if anything they knew of a group entitled the “Friends of QVS“?
Commissioners: We know nothing about Thomas Hamilton or allegations of abuse and bullying.
The first question I asked was a simple one, but it did not get a good response, so I wrote a second letter increasing my questions to three, so that the recipients were given an idea of just how serious the matters I enquired about were.
Again polite letters were written asking the commissioners, what, if anything, they knew of:
1/ Thomas Hamilton’s presence and influence at the school.
2/ A group called the “Friends of QVS” who would take boys away for weekends.
3/ Allegations that bullying and abuse of pupils took place by pupils at the school and others.
The answers from those who responded to my letters were overwhelmingly in the negative. No one knew of a group called the “Friends of QVS“. No one knew of Thomas Hamilton at the school.
One or two knew of allegations of bullying (but not abuse) that had been addressed by the authorities and the police.
The thing that struck me most was that some of the commissioners I wrote the second letter to phoned me at home, not to answer my three questions, but to see how much I knew about the affair.
Ten minutes on the internet reveals the presence and influence of Thomas Hamilton at QVS.
I decided to search the transcript of the Dunblane Inquiry to see if there were any references to Thomas Hamilton being a visitor to QVS and it took five minutes to download the file from the government website and five minutes to convert to a searchable Adobe file and enter Victoria as the search term. This resulted in 13 instances of Victoria and of them five were about the Queen Victoria School, and of the five three showed that Thomas Hamilton was indeed a frequent and influential figure at QVS.LINK
The first to speak of QVS at the Dunblane Inquiry was Grace Jones Ogilvie a neighbour of Hamilton’s who, on Day 3 of the inquiry, under oath, told Mr Bonomy, examining, of Thomas Hamilton taking his boy’s club camping at Loch Lomondside and at Queen Victoria School. LINK
The second person to speak of QVS at the Dunblane Inquiry was Ian Steven Boal a young undergraduate friend of Thomas Hamilton who, on Day 14 of the inquiry, under oath, told Mr Bonomy, examining, of Thomas Hamilton fixing him up with a job at a summer school at Queen Victoria School. LINK
The third person to speak of QVS at the Dunblane Inquiry was Robert Mark Ure who was not a friend of Thomas Hamilton, but who lived across the road from him. On Day 18 of the inquiry, under oath, Ure told Mr Bonomy, examining, that his estranged wife had told him she had been on the firing range at Queen Victoria School with her friend Thomas Hamilton. LINK
I was astonished by these references to Hamilton at Queen Victoria School as they quite clearly corroborated The Housemaster story and showed that Her Majesty’s Commissioners either didn’t know what was going on at the school they were charged with governing, or they were being less than truthful with me.
It is also surprising that these three unsolicited references to Hamilton’s presence and indeed influence at Queen Victoria School, Dunblane were not queried further on examination or cross examination.
So from three independent witnesses’ evidence to the Dunblane Inquiry it was possible to establish that Thomas Hamilton took his youth-clubs camping within the 45-acre grounds; fixed it for a friend to work as a teacher at a summer school, and took another friend shooting at the army firing range (where the school cadet force practice with heavy weapons including British Army Sten guns) of Queen Victoria School.
Yet no mention of the school is made in Lord Cullen’s report, which deals extensively with various schools (41 references), but makes no mention of Queen Victoria School. LINK
That is a pity because if the report had mentioned this school it would have brought the governance of that school into focus and of course the most senior Her Majesty’s Commissioner at the time of the shootings and the public inquiry was Michael Forsyth, the man who appointed Lord Cullen and his predecessors, Ian Lang and Malcolm Rifkind.
Another surprising fact that jumped out at me when reading the transcript of the Dunblane Inquiry was the fact that the four people who I considered key to any examination of Thomas Hamilton– his Masonic grandfather, a man who had been considered his father for most of his life, the Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police (which had repeatedly granted Hamilton firearms licences), the Chief Executive of Central Scotland Council, which had over many years allowed Hamilton to run boy’s clubs in the area, and the owner of the gun shop in Stirling that had supplied Hamilton with guns and ammunition, weeks before the massacre–were not called as witnesses to give evidence to the inquiry.
These key players in the life of Thomas Hamilton were allowed to give statements and avoid cross-examination. Their evidence was given as hear-say by others and taken as read.
Checking out The Housemaster’s story about the police smashing down the door to his house.
The dossier that The Housemaster gave me in Shetland contained a copy of a letter from Sir William Kennedy Reid, CB, Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (The Ombudsman) confirming the fact that the police were called to the school on 13 December and broke down the door of his flat, but declining to intervene as the police are excluded from the list of public bodies that he may investigate.
Confirmation of the police breaking down the door to The Housemaster’s flat also appears in a letter dated 1993 from the school headmaster, Julian D. Hankinson, to The Housemaster in which the headmaster denies the school instructed the police to do this, and avers that the decision to break down the door of The Housemaster’s home was taken by Central Scotland Police.
Checking out The Housemaster’s story about making complaints about bullying and abuse.
Hansard records in 1993 that the Scottish Office’s Chief Inspector of Schools had carried out an investigation arising out of The Housemaster’s 1991 allegations of bullying and as a consequence of their findings they had initiated changes to the school’s procedures.
The Housemaster’s correspondence also contains a copy of a 1993 letter from Sir William Kennedy Reid, CB, Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (The Ombudsman) confirming his allegations of bullying and declining representations from Jim Wallace MP to intervene further in The Housemaster’s complaint as the Chief Inspector of Schools had acted on The Housemaster’s allegations and instituted changes to procedures as a result of this, following his department’s investigation.
Further confirmation of the investigation by the Chief Inspector of Schools arising out of The Housemaster’s complaint appeared in the Scottish newspapers when the report was published in 1992, though the terms of the report are restricted to bullying and as with Hansard and The Ombudsman, The Housemaster’s allegations of abuse (as well as bullying) contained in his letter to the parents of 57 boys are omitted.
Not easy to establish the Masonic link at QVS.
The Housemaster’s allegations of a Masonic clique at the school were, like his allegations of abuse, not as clear as his allegations of bullying. I did not find this surprising, as sexual abuse, if it is not witnessed personally presents any whistleblower with a daunting prospect by claiming it openly.
Masonry is thought by many observers to have been the means by which Hamilton had led a charmed life LINK, but it is also a tricky subject to deal with and that is why The Housemaster said he hinted at it in his contemporaneous drawings, by cryptic reference to F. Mason etc., but he did not feel confident enough to openly take on the Masonic allegation until after he saw Thomas Hamilton on TV.
I know this is his position as I asked him about this specifically when I met up with him and he also told me that he was so convinced of the presence of Masonic influence at the school that he asked his MP, Jim Wallace to declare any interest in this regard. He told me then, that he was not given the assurances that he sought from Jim Wallace despite repeated requests.
As someone who has campaigned for a register of Masonic membership by decision makers I could empathise with the quandary The Housemaster found himself faced with. Nevertheless I did write to the Grand Lodge of Free and Antient Masons in Edinburgh in a bid to establish if any of those that The Housemaster maintained were Masons, were in fact in the Craft, but not surprisingly the secretive organisation do not give membership details of “gentlemen who are living”.
So while I was unable to prove The Housemaster’s allegation that Masonic influence had played a part in the strange goings on at Queen Victoria School, I believed him when he said that he knew of several colleagues – including his neighbour and Thomas Hamilton’s friend Ben Philip – who were Masons and had been convinced that freemasonry was prevalent in the school.
In short I was satisfied that he had expressed this belief before the Dunblane Massacre, and was not party to the anti-Masonic sentiment that had sprung up after that event.
That the freemasons were interested in what The Housemaster had to say was apparent. He phoned me to tell me that Lord Burton, a past Grand Master Mason of Scotland, had left a message on his telephone answering machine wishing to speak to him. He asked my advice on this and I said that I thought that he should speak to Burton.
Following this contact an astonishing newspaper article appeared entitled “Who are they trying to protect”, which covered much of what The Housemaster had told me. This was the first time to my knowledge that The Housemaster’s experiences at Queen Victoria School had appeared in the mainstream media, though one of his letters to the Duke of Edinburgh had been on the Internet. LINK
Lord Burton knew of my contact with The Housemaster and he phoned me and wrote to me several times and we had an exchange of views. I found him to be a pleasant, and I believe a decent man, but he was over-keen to protect his organisation and blamed the Speculative Society clique in the judiciary, and the police for a cover up “at the highest level” of the Dunblane tragedy. He told me that a Scots Tory Law Lord and member of the Speculative Society had pounded his fist on his desk in the House of Lords to emphasise that he [Burton] should let the matter [Dunblane] drop.
So while I was unable to substantiate The Housemaster’s allegations regarding Masonic influence I was prepared to believe – based on my experiences of the generally corrosive influence of freemasonry – that he was correct.
The Housemaster’s horror story is largely confirmed and is credible so what next?
Having established – to my satisfaction at least – the veracity of most of what The Housemaster had told me, and finding him to be a credible person who would not invent tales of sexual abuse that he was convinced had happened to pupils of Queen Victoria School, Dunblane, I had a duty to bring this matter to the attention of the proper authorities.
I compiled a file containing a written narrative of the allegations and my enquiries into them and copies of all the details The Housemaster had given me, plus my own correspondence, and made a file of it to give to the proper authorities to investigate. LINK
The problem was who were the proper authorities to take it to?
I was reluctant to take it in the first instance to the police force which had failed to act on The Housemaster’s allegations at the time and instead had broken down his door. They were, in effect, part of the problem rather than the solution.
I was also reluctant to take it to the school or the commissioners who were either in ignorance or denial of the event that I wished them to investigate. Like the police they seemed to be part of the problem rather than the solution.
As I had originally attracted The Housemaster’s attention because of my involvement in campaigning for transparency in the justice system by petitioning the Scottish Parliament I thought that this would be a good place to put his concerns about Queen Victoria School “on the record”.
The Scottish Parliament airbrushes The Housemaster’s allegations from the records along with two meetings of the Justice 2 Committee!
When my petition PE 306 – calling for decision makers in the justice system to register membership of secret societies – had been with the Scottish Parliament for almost three years the Justice 2 Committee, who were considering it, wrote and asked me to give examples of cases where there was a belief that freemasonry had been at play. I confirmed I would give five examples and was asked to provide this information before their meeting with the Justice Minister, Jim Wallace, on 4th March. They said they would discuss the matter with him, and then again consider it at their next meeting of 18th March 2003.LINK
This gave me the chance to have The Housemaster’s experiences published as part of my written submission, but to my astonishment not only was this normal practice not adhered to, the two meetings at which the Justice Committee considered my submissions was expunged from the record.
A researcher visiting the archives of events at the Scottish Parliament would not know that two meetings to consider my petition PE 306 had even taken place on the these dates, and would simply see my petition ending it’s life on 28th January 2003. LINK [See footnote 2]
This is how this came about. In response to the committee’s invitation I cited four cases in addition to my own case – which had spawned the petition – where there was a perception that Masonic bias may influence judicial proceedings.
One of the four other cases was the Dunblane Public Inquiry, where there was a belief among many, including myself, that freemasonry had been a factor in the charmed life led by Thomas Hamilton.
This belief was evidenced by the astonishing fact that he had been repeatedly granted a firearms licence and access to schools to run youth clubs, despite the fact that he was know and suspected of child abuses by police forces throughout Central Scotland.
The lack of any attempt to examine the possibility that freemasonry explained these anomalies and the fact that productions gathered for the Inquiry had been the subject of a non-statutory 100-year closure by the Inquiry judge Lord Cullen meant that the Dunblane Inquiry was seen then (& now) by many as a whitewash. LINK
I concluded my written submissions regarding the Dunblane Inquiry by reference to the case of The Housemaster at Queen Victoria School, as it was linked to the inquiry by witness’s evidence of Thomas Hamilton’s presence there.
The Justice 2 committee however, after promising to publish my submissions, or if they would not admit some aspects on legal advice, advise me of the reason why, decided that they would dismiss my petition and would not as promised publish them. This was done without giving me any reasons why other than stating: “they may be defamatory“.
To show that the matters I put to the committee were not of a defamatory nature I have published them here LINK.They consist of matters that are either in the public domain or were soon to be as matters of public interest. Not only that, most of what I claimed had already been in the newspapers.
While it was unusual for a petitioner’s submissions not to be published – even in a redacted form – it is unique and extraordinary that two Justice 2 committee meetings, one of which was attended by the Justice Minister, Jim Wallace, to consider a public petition dealing with declarations of freemasonry and membership of the Speculative Society in the judiciary to be expunged from the record as if they had never been.
Fortunately I kept the transcripts of the official reports of all of the committee meetings that considered <sic> my public petition PE 306 on file which can be seen here. LINK
Could the reference to Queen Victoria School have been the reason for this draconian censorship?
Or could the Justice Minister’s relaxed view of our judge’s membership of the Masons or the Speculative Society have been the cause of the censor’s red pencil?
My attempts to highlight The Housemaster’s allegations through the Scottish Parliament had failed.
Parliament didn’t want to know but would the judiciary be interested in The Housemaster’s story?
I had been alerted to the existence of the Speculative Society while researching my petition PE 306. It is an exclusive all-male group prominent in the judiciary. By reference to a vanity publication for the members of the society I was able to establish that over two thirds of our Law Lords were undeclared members. I made this information available to many, and one person who was interested in my findings was Robbie the Pict, an anti-road toll campaigner who had been involved in several cases involving the Skye Bridge.
At around the same time as my petition Robbie the Pict secured a hearing in the Court of Session before a bench headed by Lord Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk (now Lord President), alleging that undeclared membership of the Spec had prejudiced his court cases. LINK
I sat in the public gallery and noted with interest that at one stage when Mr Pict read from his 44-page back-up papers, he made reference to the Dunblane Inquiry and the fact that “Hamilton had also been reported to the police by a member of staff as tampering with children at Queen Victoria School shooting club in Dunblane.”
At this reference to Queen Victoria School Lord Gill’s head jerked upright as if he had been jabbed with a cattle prod. He immediately adjourned the proceedings on the basis that he was a Commissioner of the school, so would have to confer with his colleagues before proceeding further.
After an adjournment of about ten minutes, Lord Gill and his bench returned and he asked Mr Pict if he was satisfied to have Lord Gill continue to hear him on the understanding that he (Lord Gill) had a declared interest in Queen Victoria School as an ex-officio commissioner. Mr Pict agreed and the hearing continued.
This declaration confirmed to me that Lord Gill was a conscientious commissioner and a fair man, so I wrote to him asking if he would accept my evidence of The Housemaster’s allegations of sexual and physical abuse of pupils at the school, and instigate an independent inquiry into them.
Lord Gill agreed to my request and appeared to take my written submissions seriously, but after a while he came back to me suggesting that he put the matters to the present commissioners at Queen Victoria School for their investigation.
The suggestion that some of the same commissioners, who had allowed Thomas Hamilton access to the school, be allowed to investigate themselves, was not something that I welcomed, as they were seen by me – like the police – as part of the problem rather than the solution.
I declined Lord Gill’s offer. LINK
Would the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) investigate The Housemaster’s claims?
In Scotland, The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is responsible for the prosecution of crime usually following reports from the police. However COPFS are also responsible for the investigation of complaints against the police.
The Housemaster’s story made allegations against the “toffs” who took boys from the school, the school authorities, some of the older pupils, and the police who broke down the door of his home and took his possessions. So I thought they might be the relevant body to approach.
The head of COPFS is the Lord Advocate, at the relevant time, Colin Boyd, but he had refused me access or knowledge of the Dunblane Inquiry documents – held under a non-statutory 100-year closure – when I had asked to see them in connection with reference to Queen Victoria School.
The 100-year closure was partially lifted some time later after much public disquiet was aired but the documents released were uninteligible. I did inspect some at Register House and information that was freely available from the transcript of the inquiry had been redacted to such an extent that they were useless in establishing the schools or other venues at which Hamilton had held his clubs. LINK
Given the Lord Advocate’s intransigence, I decided not to go to him, but to the Solicitor General, Elish Angiolini for help.
I was aware that simply writing to the Solicitor General by name was unlikely to reach her desk so decided that in a matter of some importance such as this I would deliver my complaint by Messenger at Arms and by so doing ensure that the complaint was taken seriously.
My attempts to elicit a serious response from Elish Angiolini (nee McPhilomy), the Solicitor General for Scotland were of little effect as she simply refused to accept them from the Messenger at Arms, but did advise me to go to the police despite the fact that she knew The Housemaster’s complaint was, in part, about the police, and their failure to act, before acting maliciously.
Nowhere else to go to but the Central Scotland Police.
Having exhausted every avenue I could think of to bring The Housemaster’s allegations to the attention of some body that would take them seriously and investigate them, I had to admit defeat. I did not do this with an easy heart as I was sure that the nature of the allegations of abuse and the revelations regarding Thomas Hamilton at Queen Victoria School warranted a proper investigation by a body that had no connection with the allegations.
Of course I do not know if sexual abuse against pupils at Queen Victoria School took place, but I did believe that The Housemaster was convinced of it, and I believed him to be a credible (he later became one of Scotland’s first Chartered Teachers) and honest person.
I did not expect much of a response when on 29th September 2003, I took one hard copy and two CDs of my formal complaint to the Family Protection Unit at Bannockburn Police Station. I was not disappointed as there were no police officers to accept my formal complaint, which was taken instead by a receptionist.
I did not receive any receipt or acknowledgement of my complaint.
The Housemaster was as disappointed as I was that I failed to have a proper investigation initiated, but he was not surprised at my failure whereas I was. I considered myself to be a positive person, someone who could get things done. Having been, for many years the founder and principal of a successful business, I was confident that I could get action where he had failed in the past. I was wrong.
A newspaper article was published shortly after my complaint but it was not connected to my efforts and there was no follow up to it. LINK
Then out of the blue Housemaster phoned me to say that Central Scotland Police had been in touch with him, and as a result of my complaint two officers would be travelling to Shetland to interview him.
This phone call from The Housemaster was made two years after I had made my formal complaint, and about thirteen years after he had complained at Stirling/Dunblane police stations!
Lessons learned by me that resonate with the Savile affair.
I suppose the main lessons I learned from promoting The Housemaster’s allegations about Queen Victoria School, Dunblane, was that when an ordinary citizen such as myself takes on a whistleblowing role that might involve the great and good in our society there is little chance of being taken seriously.
If those running Queen Victoria School had been ordinary Joe’s in charge of a state school then I have little doubt the forces of law and order would have listened to The Housemaster’s allegations in 1990 and my representation of them in 2003.
But to ask the establishment to investigate allegations that politicians and judges were taking boys away from an MOD school that was stewarded by senior politicians, senior judges, The General Officer Commanding (Scotland), and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, et al. is a tall order.
The fact that Lord Cullen’s Dunblane Inquiry looked in forensic detail at Thomas Hamilton’s involvement with a host of state schools all over Central Scotland and his Report dealt extensively on this, yet he failed to mention one word about the fact that in evidence at the Inquiry it was not disputed that Thomas Hamilton had procured employment for a teacher at, camped in the grounds of, and used the firing range at, Queen Victoria School.
What does this say about deference to class?
Anyone challenging Sir James Winston Vincent Savile, OBE, KCSG, would have felt the full weight of the establishment come to bear on them. Just as I did when I asked Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen, the three simple questions I had asked the others, about what he knew of a group called the “Friends of QVS” and the presence of Thomas Hamilton at the school, and allegations of bullying and abuse.
Instead of a polite response from Lord George, he wrote to me on NATO headed paper stating that he knew of no inquiry into any allegations, considered my letter an impertinence, would not be answering any questions and would copy this response to the Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police. I firmly responded to this aggressive response.
I later learned that he had asked Andrew Cameron, Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police to investigate me! My solicitor was later advised by the police that these investigations were limited to basic background information checks against me to establish my motive in asking the questions of Lord Robertson, who they said, they had a responsibility of protection for, given that he was a prominent public figure.
This much I was able to establish from police correspondence as a result of FOI requests, but I was unable to access the full extent of this request, as Lord George would not agree to allow the police to release his correspondence to me on the matter. Similarly he would not accede to my lawyer’s FOI requests via NATO HQ, from where he had sent his letters.LINK
But protection for Lord George from what? Polite, genuine questions of public interest. And what of the police’s duty to me, and those the allegations concerned?
When complaints involve the great and good the complainer may be the one who is investigated.
I am sure that Savile would have made this point to anyone who had the temerity to say they intended to complain about him.
Finally, there is a link in the case of Savile and the efforts of The Housemaster, who wrote a valedictory note to David Ross, at that time a reporter with the Scotsman, a copy of which was sent to me. It was a somewhat melodramatic though poignant synopsis of his efforts, it told of all the people he had contacted with his allegations, but who failed to help him (including Esther Rantzen who he had contacted, but she ignored him, just like she ignored the “green room gossip“.) and ended in the words: “I can do no more now“. LINK
Footnote 1: Since Lord Burton has now passed on I can reveal that the Law Lord who bullied him to stop asking questions about Dunblane was Lord Fraser of Carmyllie. This was revealed to me in telephone conversations with Lord Burton, and reference was made to the incident in the Marcello Mega article in the News of the World, but he only identified him to me in confidence. The obligation of confidentiality is no longer relevant as he appeared to be afraid of Lord Fraser who is also departed.
Footnote 2: After much complaint about the two missing meetings in connection with my new petition PE01491 a brief description of one of them, the meeting of 18 March 2003 has been restored to its former place on the PPC website but the other meeting of 4 March 2003 is still missing from a summary of the meetings at which PE306 was discussed.
5th July 2015: Sunday Express on Top Scots school abuse claims! LINK
25th July 2015. Sunday Express on Whistleblower lodging complaint re police LINK
21st February 2016 (26 years after a housemaster complained to police) it seems as if the irregularities at Queen Victoria School Dunblane that allowed Thomas Hamilton privileges at the school are to be investigated. LINK
13th March 2017, on the 21st anniversary of the Dunblane massacre the ex-housemaster at Queen Victoria School, Dunblane, is still pursuing his complaint that the police failed to deal with his allegations of suspected abuse and the presence of unauthorised visitors to the school including Thomas Hamilton.
Today Sunday 2nd April 2017, The Sunday Times (Scottish edition), has a front page exclusive on the news that two cases of sexual abuse having QVS perpetrator have been reported to the police increasing the pressure on that school being included in Lady Smith’s sexual abuse inquiry. LINK