Dunblane 'cover-up' concerns revealed in official papers
Government ministers discussed the need to "close down" public perception of a cover-up over the Dunblane massacre, official papers have revealed.
Thomas Hamilton murdered 16 children and their teacher in Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996.
Police reports from 1991 on Hamilton were sealed for 100 years to protect the children concerned.
The discussion is revealed in newly-released papers dating from the then Scottish Executive in 2003.
The 100-year ban covered police reports about incidents of alleged abuse at a summer camp run by Hamilton.
However, speculation emerged that the reports linked the mass murderer with members of the Scottish establishment.
Extracts published during a public inquiry led by Lord Cullen showed a 1991 police report recommended Hamilton should be prosecuted for his activities at the summer camp and have his gun licence revoked, but no further action was taken.
The Cabinet minutes from February 2003 said: "If the documents were released earlier into the public domain there would be a possibility that individuals who were still alive could be identified.
"The documents had, however, been made available in full to the Dunblane Inquiry."
The minutes said that there was a "strong public perception of a cover-up."
They said: "A 100 years closure seemed incomprehensibly lengthy to the public... what mattered was to close the story down."
The minutes said that releasing a "sanitised" version of the report would be "more difficult than generally thought and administratively costly."
They said: "Doing so might not be sufficient to satisfy concerns.
"One alternative might be to indicate that the papers had been reviewed by an independent person who could assure the public that they did not contain the kind of references which had been suggested."
In 2005, the then lord advocate Colin Boyd lifted the restriction on some documents closed under the 100-year rule.