Politics

Tory ministers accused of 'manipulating' Dunblane community after massacre


Ministers were accused of “manipulating” the grieving Dunblane community in the aftermath of the massacre of 16 children and their teacher, declassified files show.

Parents of youngsters gunned down by murderer Thomas Hamilton demanded an urgent clarification from Prime Minister John Major days after the 1996 tragedy, amid fears the Government was about to U-turn on a pledge to help, a newly-released letter reveals.

Relatives were angered by reports Scottish Minister Michael Forsyth was abandoning a pledge to offer taxpayers’ money to rebuild the gym where Hamilton slaughtered five and six-year-olds.

The PM and Mr Forsyth were among a delegation to visit the Scottish town after the March 13 attack.

Mr Major confirmed to the headteacher that finding Government cash for the project “would not be a problem”.

Gerry McDermott, spokesman for the school board of governors, said the gesture “was a source of great comfort” to the community, “relieving strain from those most closely involved”.


However, he accused the Government of “manipulating” the community for political gain when claims emerged that ministers would scrap the plan and use public donations instead.

He said that if the U-turn claims were true, he wanted “to put on record my extreme disappointment in the manner in which this bereaved community has been manipulated, maximising media opportunity, yet failing to deliver a widely reported promise of assistance”.

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But Mr Forsyth told the governors there was no truth in the suggestion.

He added: “I simply cannot understand where the report came from … we stand by (the) commitment.”

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