The inquiry into child abuse in Scotland will only investigate incidents which took place against those who were not in the legal care of their parents, John Swinney has said.
In a statement to MSPs on Thursday, the education secretary said he has made the remit of the inquiry clearer to make sure there was no confusion over what the panel could investigate.
The inquiry, chaired by Lady Smith, will hear evidence of abuse carried out against children who were in long-term legal care of institutions and bodies.
If abuse against those individuals was carried out outside the institution but while they were still under their care, the inquiry will investigate it.
Those who were abused at the same outside settings, such as a youth group, but were in the long-term care of their parents will not fall into the inquiry’s remit.
Swinney told MSPs: “I have concluded there is a clear distinction between ‘in care’ settings and ‘non-in care’ settings. In care settings are those where institutions and bodies had legal responsibility for the long-term care of children in the place of the parent, with all of the legal and moral obligations that status carries. That is different to the position in non-in care settings, such as day schools and youth groups, where others had a duty of care on a short term basis but crucially were not in anyway replacing the role of parents. In too many cases, terrible crimes were committed in those settings, too. Criminal behaviour should be referred to the police and I hope the, where the evidence exists, this will be energetically pursued through the criminal courts”.
Some survivors wanted the inquiry’s remit to be widened to include all incidents of abuse, a point made in the chamber by Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray.
He said: “Many survivors have pursued a wider remit for the inquiry because they believe it unjust that most survivors of abuse will not be caught by the scope of the inquiry at all.”
The education secretary judged a widened remit would mean the inquiry would “take many more years to conclude” meaning it would fail “to respond to those survivors of in care abuse”.
Other survivors feared a widened remit would cause delays. The campaign group Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes welcomed Swinney’s narrower remit.
A spokesman for the group said: “The change to the inquiry remit is a positive change and will bring clarity to this now. We were not supportive of widening the remit to such a degree whereby it had a major impact on the timescale. We were mindful of the issues that have occurred regarding the English child abuse inquiry. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry term of reference and remit are focused, targeted and achievable in a reasonable timescale including with this additional change.”
The inquiry has suffered a series of set backs since it was launched in October, 2015.
Susan O’Brien, the original chairwoman, quit her post in July citing interference into her work by the Scottish Government. Swinney has consistently rejected the allegation.
A second panelist , Professor Michael Lamb, also resigned over alleged interference from St Andrew’s House. Mrs O’Brien said the the inquiry was “doomed”. SOURCE
John Swinney is to remove a three year time bar which constrains the ability of child abuse victims to seek civil damages in court.
The Deputy First Minister published legislation to get rid of the time bar, which requires those who want to raise a personal injury action for damages to do so within three years of the date on which the injuries were sustained.
The current law means that child abuse survivors are usually required to raise civil action by the date of their 19th birthday – three years after they reach the age of 16.
Survivors have campaigned for the removal of the time bar while the Scottish Government has been working on its inquiry into historical abuse, chaired by Lady Smith.
The bar will be abolished under the forthcoming Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill, which will be the Scottish Government’s first piece of legislation of the 2016/17 parliamentary year.
In a statement to Holyrood, Mr Swinney also announced that the inquiry’s scope will be extended to include the abuse of children in care wherever that occurred.
It will, however, not be extended to included all allegations of abuse in non-residential settings – a decision that will be criticised by some survivors’ groups.
Mr Swinney said: “The Government’s intention has always been that the abuse of children and young people in care is to be taken into account wherever it occurred and I want to put that matter beyond doubt. As required, I have consulted the inquiry chair Lady Smith and amended the terms of reference to clarify this point. That is the only change I intend to make to the inquiry remit.”
Mr Swinney indicated that extending the investigation to include all abuse allegations in non-residential settings would mean the inquiry taking “many more years to conclude” SOURCE.