A TRIBUTE TO IAN HAMILTON KC

by Ewan Kennedy, a friendly solicitor who is rapidly becoming a regular on Yours for Scotland. My Tribute to Ian Hamilton KC I only met Ian Hamilton once, at one of Rosie Morrison’s ceilidhs. She had arrived in the Law Faculty in October 1965, which places it in the following Spring and makes Ian aboutContinue reading "A TRIBUTE TO IAN HAMILTON KC"

A TRIBUTE TO IAN HAMILTON KC

by Ewan Kennedy, a friendly solicitor who is rapidly becoming a regular on Yours for Scotland.

My Tribute to Ian Hamilton KC

I only met Ian Hamilton once, at one of Rosie Morrison’s ceilidhs. She had arrived in the Law Faculty in October 1965, which places it in the following Spring and makes Ian about forty. Others there that night included the crew of the Vital Spark, so that when the Marine Division turned up, as they usually did at student parties, they were met at the door by Roddy MacMillan and sent away to think again.

Ian was, of course, seen by us students as a celebrity. I seem to remember him telling us that he had just returned from working in the Ministry of Justice in a small African State and the story had something of the Thirty Nine Steps about it. He had returned to being a student in order to take some additional law subjects to qualify as a solicitor, although he had already been an advocate since 1954. To support himself he had started working in an office in Sauchiehall Street.

Of course he soon abandoned that idea and returned to advocacy until, many years later, he was persuaded to accept appointment as a sheriff, which bored him to such an extent that he was rumoured to have acquired three budgies named “Ross”, “Harper” and “Murphy”.

He returned to legal practice, where his phenomenal ability with words and his charm before juries were put to good effect. I was never in a position to instruct him, but a friend did so, in quite a complicated fraud case with multiple charges and thousands of individual pieces of paperwork. As the trial date approached and several cardboard cartons of productions lay in a corner of my friend’s office undisturbed he went down to Babbitys one day for a chat, to be told by Ian that it would be better if neither he nor the jury understood what the case was about and he had no intention of wasting time reading, which duly proved correct.

Outside of the law Ian was well known up here in mid Argyll, having arrived, it was understood, when in the course of a charity trip his kayak capsized under the Drochaid na Coingheil. He was soon established in the Falls of Lora and started a market garden to provide fresh vegetables, then in short supply. Sadly his aeroplane venture came a bit unstuck when his charterer went missing from Glenforsa for a few years before being found up a tree, with the plane somewhere in the Sound near the Eilean Glas, an incident that sounds like fiction and indeed resulted in These Demented Lands. He also at one point set off to sail the Atlantic singlehanded and had the immense courage to recognise his own frailty and return safely to land. His most recent venture into public life was probably his litigation against the Royal Bank, a decent man taking on the institutionalisation of evil.

It’s difficult to imagine a richer, more fascinating life, or one that could contribute so much to the story of a stirring nation.

MY COMMENTS

I knew of Ian Hamilton more than knew him well. He was a boyhood hero thanks to his exploits with the Stone so much so that when I introduced Independence Lager in the early 90’s, as a bit of a marketing ploy to help the SNP, I decided I would like him to be one of the eight Independence figures that would feature on the back labels of the product. Each label told the story of what the figure had contributed to Independence. Several of these had already passed, heroes like William Wallace, but I was obliged to contact the “living” to seek their approval. Believe it or not some of those on the original list wanted more than a free case of beer to be “ honoured” in this way and sought cash payment. Not Ian Hamilton or Winnie Ewing who both gladly agreed and in Ian’s case was highly delighted to be asked. Needless to say those who sought payment fell off the list of notables and lost out of the case of beer on offer, unlike Ian who phoned me to tell me how much he liked the beer! It sold just over 300,000 bottles before being discontinued due to production difficulties with the Brewers. So I have a small claim to adding to his well deserved fame. He deserved his long life and we were a better country for his presence amongst us.

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland.