Abuse survivors spell out inquiry fears to Swinney
July 8 2016, 12:01am, The Times
Survivors of historical child abuse have given John Swinney, the deputy first minister, “one last chance” to restore faith in the government’s crisis-hit inquiry.
Two of the three panel members have resigned from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry amid allegations of government interference.
Mr Swinney, who is also education secretary, met abuse survivors yesterday in an attempt to salvage the investigation.
The In Care Abuse Survivors group (Incas) suggested that a judge, or other senior legal figure, should be appointed to head the inquiry in order to restore its credibility. The inquiry was set up in October 2015, with Susan.
Survivors say education secretary John Swinney has agreed to look at widening the remit of Scotland’s child abuse inquiry during talks on its future.
The inquiry was thrown into crisis this week following the resignation of its chair, Susan O’Brien, who quit just days after fellow panel member Professor Michael Lamb.
Survivors’ groups met Mr Swinney in Edinburgh today to discuss the inquiry, and said their discussions had been “productive”.
Ms O’Brien and Prof Lamb claimed the Scottish Government had interfered with the inquiry’s independence.
Speaking ahead of the meeting on Thursday, Mr Swinney said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to meet survivors and their representatives to discuss the public inquiry into historic child abuse and the wider support available to them.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney is to meet survivors of child abuse today after some groups said they had lost confidence in the Scottish Government’s inquiry.The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has seen two of its three panel members resign, and has been criticised by survivors groups.Swinney, who is also Scotland’s Education Secretary, rejected claims that the government interfered with the inquiry in “the strongest possible terms”.He said he would “listen carefully” to the concerns at today’s meeting after the Care Survivors group said the handling of the inquiry and accusations of government interference had been “traumatising” for abuse victims.The inquiry was announced in December 2014, to investigate historical abuse of children in care at institutions, boarding schools, hospitals and in foster care.
It was formally set up in October 2015, with Susan O’Brien QC chairing, alongside psychology professor Michael Lamb and Glenn Houston.
However, Lamb resigned in June 2016, saying the inquiry was “doomed” by government interference.
O’Brien then followed one week later, making similar claims, but with Swinney announcing that moves were underway which could have seen her removed over “unacceptable” comments.
Swinney said he would seek to “reassure” survivors that work was underway to make sure “the inquiry remains on track”.
He said: “I realise that the events of the last week have caused survivors great anxiety and upset. I can’t undo that, but today I will have the opportunity to listen carefully to their concerns and hear what they feel is needed to move forward.” SOURCE