Man who ‘liberated’ Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey dies aged 97

Ian Hamilton and three friends removed stone from Westminster Abbey in 1950

Ian Hamilton KC, pictured above, was studying at Glasgow University when he led the Christmas Eve raid with three fellow students in 1950 in a bid to “repatriate” the stone which was returned to England in 1952 after being found in Arbroath.

The inquiry into the theft was led by William Kerr, a detective who was later to become Chief Constable of Dunbartonshire.

Mr Hamilton, who went of to become a prominent lawyer, has been described by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has a “giant” of the independence movement.

On Tuesday, it was revealed Mr Hamilton had died aged 97.

SNP MP Gavin Newlands is among those paying tributes to Mr Hamilton, who was a resident of his Renfrewshire constituency. Mr Hamilton also lived for a time at Connell Bridge, near Oban, Argyll.

Mr Newlands said: “Very sorry to learn that Paisley’s very own, Ian Hamilton has died.

“An accomplished advocate, he will be remembered best as an independence campaigner. On Christmas Eve 1950, Ian, with three friends, liberated the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey.”

The stone, which was originally used to crown Scottish kings, was brought back to Scotland on a permanent basis on St Andrew’s Day in 1996.

The stone of destiny was officially returned to Scotland in 1996.

It has recently been temporarily returned to Westminster Abbey for the coronation of King Charles.

The First Minister also paid tribute on social media.

She said: “I am extremely sad to hear of Ian Hamilton’s death. He was a lawyer of exceptional quality and a legend of the independence movement.

“He will long be remembered as one of the Christmas 1950 liberators of the Stone of Destiny.

“During my time as the SNP leader I have received occasional words of wisdom, encouragement and support from him, which I will alway treasure.

“He is one of the many giants on whose shoulders the modern SNP stands. My condolences go to his loved ones.”

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