Lawyer who helped steal Stone of Destiny hailed as ‘Scottish icon’ at funeral

A lawyer who helped steal the Stone of Destiny will be remembered for as long as Scotland exists, mourners at his funeral service have been told.

Until his death on October 4 aged 97, Ian Hamilton KC was the last surviving member of the gang of four students who took the famous stone, on which kings and queens of Scotland were traditionally crowned.

Former SNP MSP Alex Neil told the service at Connel Village Hall, Argyll and Bute, that his late friend was a “Scottish icon”, adding: “As long as there’s a planet called Earth and a nation called Scotland, the name of Ian Hamilton will be remembered.

“For thousands of years from now, I believe that Ian will be as revered then as he is today.”

Ian Hamilton funeral

The service took place in Argyll and Bute (John Linton/PA)

Draped in a saltire, Mr Hamilton’s coffin was taken after the service to his home near the village, with the pallbearers – who included his sons Jamie and Stewart – carrying him on the last leg of his final journey.

Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, in 1925, Mr Hamilton was studying law at Glasgow University when he took part in the online Christmas Day raid on Westminster Abbey with fellow students Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart.

Three months later, the stone – which had been devoted by King Edward I of England in 1296 – was found 500 miles from London at Arbroath Abbey and returned to Westminster.

In 1996 it was sent back north of the border, and is on display at Edinburgh Castle. It will be taken to London again next year for the King’s coronation.

Mr Hamilton’s sons gave eulogies at the service, which was attended by Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown and former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan.

Stewart Hamilton, who said his father died with his two sons at his side at home, said he had been “carrying that stone with him all the way through his life”.

Both his sons thanked his carers for helping their father, and the congregation laughed when Jamie Hamilton told them in his eulogy: “It’s hard work being a carer, I have seen it first. It’s even harder work being a carer for Ian Hamilton.”

  Stone of Destiny

The Coronation Chair containing the Stone of Destiny in Westminster Abbey after it was recovered (PA)

He described his father as a “caring, humane man” who “never compromised on his principles”.

He added: “He was an extraordinary orator and it has taken me 97 years and a coffin to get any kind of word in edgeways,” as he noted his father had a sense of justice, would speak up for the vulnerable and challenge authority if he thought what was happening was wrong.

Both his sons recalled the exploits of their father, from trying to sail across the Atlantic, jumping off Connel bridge after a drunken bar bet for charity, flying in Canada, protesting against the nuclear weapons at Faslane where he was arrested, and driving a motorbike well into his 80s.

Stewart Hamilton said: “He had addiction, he had many addictions, but his main addiction was life.

“His compulsion to live was the driving force behind everything he did, behind everything, behind his whole wonderful, amazing life.

“He couldn’t help it. It defined him, it consumed him, and for that I’ll be forever proud.”

Following Mr Hamilton’s death, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter that the 97-year-old was a “lawyer of exceptional quality” and a “legend of the independence movement”.

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