Almost unnoticed in the pre-Christmas hysteria, they finally got around to publishing the report into the fatal stabbing of the Cults Academy schoolboy, Bailey Gwynne.
That’s one way of putting it. The report by Andrew Lowe runs to 68 pages. But huge chunks of it have been redacted. Page 6, for example, is almost completely blacked out.
What about page 7?
That page also. To say nothing of pages 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 – they’re just a mass of black blobs as well.
So the narrative resumes on page 20?
Not quite. It too is blacked out. It gets a bit better after that. Though not much.
What’s the explanation?
Aberdeen City Council spent two months trying to obtain permission from the many parties named in the report for their personal details to be published. In the end no-one agreed. The council says it 'respects the wishes of the individuals and families involved’, adding that the report contains ‘a great deal of sensitive, confidential and legally restricted information’.
Hang about, though. The case had already been the subject of criminal proceedings. Presumably a lot of this information wasn’t legally restricted at the trial?
Absolutely not. You can’t hide behind 'data protection’ in the High Court. But a quite different standard applies to a mere inquiry. For example, even the headteacher of Cults Academy has exercised her right to remain anonymous.
But her name was all over the place after Bailey’s death and during the trial of his killer.
Indeed. But not any more.
So what’s the value of this report, in its final censored form?
Limited. Especially as the Scottish government has still to respond to Mr Lowe’s many recommendations.