GODFATHER Arthur Thompson snr ordered one of Scotland's most infamous unsolved murders, a notorious underworld enforcer claimed last night.
Police in Glasgow have spent 20 years trying to catch the killer of Paul Hamilton, a small-time crook who became a key player in the city's most explosive gangland murder trial.
Now a leading figure from Glasgow's crime clans has named the assassin - and the man who sent him.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Record, William Lobban told how his uncle, Billy Manson, visited him in jail in 1994 and confessed to blasting Hamilton to death as the victim sat in his Daimler in the city's east end.
"He came out with it, right out of the blue," Lobban told us.
"He said it was him that had taken care of Paul Hamilton, and that Arthur had told him to do it."
Manson was a close associate of Thompson snr. And he told Lobban that the Godfather had never forgiven Hamilton for giving an alibi to celebrity gangster Paul Ferris, the man cleared of murdering his son, Arthur jnr, in August 1991.
Ferris, whose story was supposedly told this year in movie flop The Wee Man, stood trial in 1992 for the murder of "Fat Boy" Thompson in a case that held Scotland transfixed.
But Hamilton told the jury he saw the accused in a pub on the night of the shooting, and Ferris walked free on a not proven verdict.
Manson said Thompson snr was "upset" by Hamilton's evidence.
And according to Lobban, the Godfather had a second reason to want Hamilton, 35, dead.
He believed he was an informer, passing information on the Thompson empire to Ferris and his other bitter rival, Tam "The Licensee" McGraw.
Lobban said: "Hamilton was giving Ferris and McGraw information about old Arthur's business.
"Arthur had it in his mind that Hamilton had crossed a line, and that he would have to go. That's the real truth of what happened."
Manson is no longer around to answer for his alleged crime. He died of a drug overdose in 1997, and Lobban believes he committed suicide.
But if he was indeed Hamilton's assassin, it takes the heat off another man who was questioned over the 1993 murder - Lobban's former friend and now bitter enemy, Ferris.
Hamilton's widow, Georgina, spoke last year of her loathing for Ferris.
She told police how Ferris phoned her husband just an hour before he was killed, to ask to meet him so he could give him some money. She said Hamilton drove off to see him, and never came home.
But Lobban insisted: "That was just a coincidence.
"I don't think Ferris would be so stupid to provide that kind of evidence if he was actually behind the murder."
Lobban points the finger at Thompson snr in his new book Glasgow Curse: My Life in the Criminal Underworld.
And he strongly denies any involvement in Thompson jnr's murder - a crime Ferris tried to pin on him.
At his trial, Ferris lodged a special defence of incrimination, naming Lobban as Fat Boy's assassin.
But Lobban told us: "He made it up. I never even met Thompson jnr.
"When I was faced with that claim, it was a bombshell. And all the things Ferris has said about me have been allowed to lurk around and seep into the legend of what happened."
Lobban has also lived with claims that he was involved in the savage aftermath of Fat Boy's death, when Ferris associates Joe "Bananas" Hanlon and Bobby Glover were murdered in revenge on Thompson snr's orders.
go He has often been accused of luring Hanlon and Glover to their deaths in September 1991, and he freely admits he met them shortly before they were gunned down.
He admits he was the last man - apart from their killer - to see them alive.
Convicted gun runner Ferris has claimed Paul Hamilton was also involved in the Hanlon and Glover murders.
In his book The Ferris Conspiracy, which became the basis for The Wee Man, he wrote: "PaulHamilton had been boasting about driving the blue Transit van that allegedly carried Bobby and Joe's dead bodies.
"Every time he got drunk, which was often, he'd add to the story, though he never got as far as suggesting he was the gunman. It came as no surprise when he was found shot dead."
Hamilton's widow dismissed that story as "complete fabrication" And Lobban is equally contemptuous of Ferris, a man he once regarded as his "brother" in the underworld.
He said: "Ferris gets a situation and spins it. He always does.
"He is obsessed with calling people traitors, labelling them 'Judas' and quoting from the Bible.
"But he is the biggest Judas. I'm not quite the villain he has painted, and I hope my book sheds light on a lot of areas where my reputation has been damaged."
Lobban says he is now reformed, and hopes his book will offer him some redemption for his gangster years.
He said: "I had a very tough upbringing.
I was in care and I was from one of the most violent, old-school criminal families in Glasgow, so I was naturally drawn to a life of crime."
Lobban's biggest regret is escaping from Dungavel jail in March, 1991, when he had only three months to serve of a six-year sentence for armed robbery.
He claims the escape forced him to exist in the underworld, where he aligned himself closely with men such as Ferris just as Glasgow's gangland was about to descend into bloody conflict.
We have not paid Lobban for his story.
1983 William Lobban and Paul Ferris meet in Longriggend Remand Centre, Airdrie.
1989 Lobban escapes from Dungavel Open Prison with three months to go of six year sentence for armed robbery.
Aug 1991 Arthur Thompson Jnr shot three times outside the family home "The Ponderosa", top left, in east end of Glasgow.
Sept 1991 Paul Ferris's friends, Bobby Glover and Joe Hanlon, are murdered.
Jul 1992 Ferris acquitted of murder after Paul Hamilton gives him an alibi.
Nov 1993 Paul Hamilton murdered in his car, above.
Jul 1998 Ferris jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey for gun-running.
THE TIMELINE 1991 THE PLAYERS Arthur Thompson snr Notorious Glasgow gangland boss whose son Arthur jnr was murdered in 1991.
Billy Manson Uncle of Lobban and close cohort of Arthur Thompson Snr. p Paul HamiltonHis alibi helped clear Paul Ferris. Hamilton's murder remains unsolved.
Bobby Glover Suspected accomplice in Thompson jnr murder. Killed Joe "Bananas" Hanlon Murdered on Thompson snr's orders. Body dumped, with Glover's, on route of Boy's funeral Fat Boy s fun neral cortege.
Old Arthur thought that Hamilton had crossed a line. He would have to go LOBBAN