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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 18:11 GMT
Firearms row teacher is suspended
Stewart Nicoll
Stewart Nicoll has been suspended on full pay
Highland Council has suspended a teacher who was compared to Dunblane killer Thomas Hamilton during a legal row over his firearms licence.

A police lawyer suggested to Stewart Nicoll in court that he could be provoked into causing a bloodbath.

Northern Constabulary opposes the 54-year-old's attempt to regain his gun licence, which was taken from him in March after an earlier suspension.

The Grantown Grammar School teacher insists he is no threat to anyone.

However, he was suspended again on full pay in light of this week's hearing at Inverness Sheriff Court.

Never in my professional life have I come across such blatant propaganda and indoctrination
John Bruce
Senior education officer
Education director Bruce Robertson said: "The suspension will allow the council to review new evidence led at the civil court case."

Mr Nicoll, a modern studies teacher, was initially suspended by the council in March.

He was accused of making controversial comments in class on subjects like race, slavery and firearms and said that positive discrimination in favour of the disabled and ethnic minorities had gone too far.

John Bruce, a senior education officer with Highland Council, told the court: "What struck me about the whole affair was the number of views that resided in one corner of the political spectrum and their relentlessness.

"Never in my professional life have I come across such blatant propaganda and indoctrination. I was alarmed and shocked by the extent of it."

Shotguns and rifles

Mr Nicoll, from Aviemore, was allowed to return at the start of the new term but had a classroom monitor watching his lessons.

He went to court earlier this week in an attempt to get back his five shotguns and two rifles.

During the hearing, Northern Constabulary's lawyer Norman Phillips compared Mr Nicoll to Thomas Hamilton, who murdered 16 children and a teacher in Dunblane.

He also claimed that the teacher's life bore similarities to Michael Ryan, who killed 14 people at Hungerford.

I would never revenge myself on an innocent person
Stewart Nicoll
Mr Phillips said Mr Nicoll had "a tendency to dwell on matters, lose his temper and may resort to violence".

In court he told him: "If you were provoked to such a point that you collected your weapons from home, there could be a bloodbath.

"That may be an extreme way of putting it, but I have to protect the public."

However, Mr Nicoll replied: "I am completely safe with firearms."

Mr Phillips said Mr Nicoll held right-wing views which were considered extreme by most of society.

School premises

"In the Hungerford case, the individual was a younger man, but a solitary individual who appeared to have snapped on one occasion," he said.

"In the case of Dunblane the local authorities had denied the man access to school premises and his boys clubs."

Mr Nicoll replied: "Those men had nothing else in their lives except firearms. I have lots of things in my life.

"I would never revenge myself on an innocent person, nor with a shotgun."

The hearing was adjourned to a later date.

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