‘Profound grief’ over Donald Dewar revealed in secret papers

Donald Dewar died in 2000. Picture: TSPL
Donald Dewar died in 2000. Picture: TSPL
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The Scottish cabinet’s “profound shock and grief” following the death of Donald Dewar 15 years ago has been revealed in newly-declassified papers.

Scotland’s inaugural first minister, now remembered as the founding father of devolution, died in hospital on 11 October, 2000. He had suffered a brain haemorrhage after falling on the steps outside his official residence the previous day.

Cabinet papers released under the 15-year rule show ministers at the time met at Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s House on the day of his death.

Among those present from the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition was then deputy first minister Jim Wallace, Mr Dewar’s successor, Henry McLeish; and future first minister Jack McConnell.

The minutes state: “The cabinet expressed their profound shock and grief at the death of the first minister.”

They reveal how the cabinet agreed the text of a short statement to be issued to the media and used by Mr Wallace and Mr McLeish when meeting the media later.