22nd Feb 2017
SURVIVORS of child abuse say that continued failures by the Scottish Government have left them feeling “groomed” all over again.
In an interview with Good Morning Scotland, survivors groups say they “continue to be failed” by the government after a third member of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry panel resigned.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced yesterday he would not appoint a successor
They also said survivors feel there’s “no point” in engaging with the inquiry further because they feel the process has become too “legalistic” and they have been “denied” an opportunity for redress.
The inquiry is now being led solely by Supreme Court judge Lady Anne Smith.
Glenn Houston, who was the last original member of the board, stepped down from his role yesterday with immediate effect, due to a potential “conflict of interest”.
Alan Draper of Care Abuse Survivors Group says he is “concerned” over Mr Houston’s “commitment to the whole process” and that survivors have had “no announcement” from education secretary John Swinney as to why he feels Lady Smith should act alone.
Mr Houston’s departure follows the resignation of the inquiry’s original chairwoman, Lady Susan O’Brien and fellow panel member Michael Lamb.
Mr Draper said: “Glen Houston and Professor Lamb had expertise in the whole field of child protection, that expertise will now be missing. This limits the inquiry’s capacity to focus on the key issues. Survivors themselves are at the centre of the inquiry – it’s now too legalistic for us, it looks far too narrow.”
Groups also say survivors in Scotland are not given redress, compared to other inquiries in Northern Ireland and Australia.
Andy Lavery from White Flowers Alba said that less than 200 victims are now in contact with the inquiry out of an estimated 6000 that experienced abuse, because they face “no prospect of justice”.
What’s the point of the inquiry? It doesn’t mean anything if you’ve suffered abuse
Mr Lavery said: “This is a disgrace and it’s terribly sad. I don’t know anyone who wants to testify now.
“Northern Ireland had care and redress, but there’s none of that here. What’s the point of the inquiry? It doesn’t mean anything if you’ve suffered abuse. This isn’t right or equality. It isn’t justice in our 21st Century. We deserve honesty and we deserve parity with other enquiries. All John Swinney has got to do is assist Lady Smith – get the manual from Sydney [inquiry], get staff and get this up to speed. Let’s crack on with it but that means building trust. We need action, not getting groomed again.”
Susan O’Brien claims she was forced out
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, set up to focus on allegations of abuse in formal institutional care settings, is expected to last four years.
John Swinney argued it has a “very broad” remit which does not include redress, but that it was a “significant issue” he was examining with survivors groups.
He said: “The inquiry is doing exactly what it’s commissioned to do which is to pursue justice and accountability. If there is a question of redress that is also responsibility of the state. It’s why the government is legislating in Parliament the Limitation Bill, which removes legal obstacles for victims seeking due recourse for abuse that took place in the period after September 1964.”
He added that the appointment of Lady Smith as chairwoman was a “success” after the resignation of Lady Susan O’Brien – who quit over claims she made comments that were “offensive to survivors”.
Mr Swinney added: “When the previous chair resigned survivors groups wanted the inquiry to be led by a senior judge. That’s not a limitation – the inquiry has the ability to appoint assessors who can look at particular specialisms. I want survivors and the public to have confidence in the inquiry and there’s every reason why that should be case.” https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/623408/child-abuse-survivors-left-feeling-groomed-by-scottish-government-after-inquiry-sees-third-resignation/ https://archive.is/OhyZr
A WEE ADDITION
“Lady Susan O’Brien – who quit over claims she made comments that were offensive to survivors”
THAT IS NOT THE TRUTH! SWINNEY IS A DOWNRIGHT LIAR
PLEASE READ Ms O’Brian’s letter of resignation https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/07/04/csa-chairwomans-letter-of-resignation-to-john-swinney/ https://archive.is/xncBq
Child abuse survivors’ groups have said they have “no trust left” in Scotland’s Child Abuse Inquiry.
White Flowers Alba and In Care Abuse Survivors Group both called for urgent answers from the Scottish government on the future of the inquiry.
The probe has been plagued by problems and all three original panel members have now resigned.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he understood the concerns but told the BBC the inquiry was gathering momentum.
Glen Houston resigned from the panel on Tuesday. He said his new appointments to the boards of two public sector organisations meant there was potentially a conflict of interest with his work on the abuse inquiry.
The other two original panel members, Susan O’Brien QC and Prof Michael Lamb, stood down within days of each other last year, complaining of government interference.
In July 2016, senior judge Lady Smith was appointed as the new chairwoman following Ms O’Brien’s resignation.
The spokesman for the survivors’ group White Flowers Alba, Andi Lavery, claimed there were fewer than 200 survivors now in contact with the inquiry and said there was “no trust left”.
“It’s an absolute disgrace and it’s so terribly sad. I don’t know anybody that’s left that wants to testify and we’re in contact with quite a number of survivors,” he told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme. At the end of the day, if you’re abused in Scotland you face no prospect of either justice, accountability or redress. But if you’re abused in Carlisle or Belfast, you face them in their inquiries. That’s not right, it’s not equality and it’s not justice.”
The inquiry was launched in October 2015 and charged with examining historical allegations of child abuse in residential accommodation in Scotland.
It is due to report in 2019.
Also speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Alan Draper, of the In Care Abuse Survivors Group, said survivors were concerned about the resignation of Mr Houston and the Scottish government’s decision not to replace him on the panel.
“It looks too legalistic to us. All we’ve got now is a High Court judge, QCs and solicitors involved in the inquiry team and no external expertise. This looks far too narrow,” Mr Draper said.
Failed in care
The group have also demanded that Mr Swinney tell them why the inquiry will not consider redress for victims.
Mr Draper told BBC Scotland: “We’ve continued to ask John Swinney that this be part of the remit. We’ve been denied this remit. What survivors tend to feel [is that] we were failed when we were in care. We continue to be failed by the Scottish government and we continue to be failed by the inquiry – why should we engage with it?”
But Mr Swinney insisted the inquiry had a “very broad remit” and would ensure justice was delivered to abuse survivors.
He also defended the decision not to appoint a successor to Mr Houston, saying that survivors’ groups had told him “very strongly” they wanted the inquiry to be led by a senior judge.
The deputy first minister told the BBC that Lady Smith also had the ability to appoint assessors to “enhance the expertise of the inquiry. I completely understand the concern of survivors and I’ve engaged with survivors on a number of occasions since I took over responsibility of the Child Abuse Inquiry and I will continue to do so,” he said. The inquiry is gathering evidence, it’s gathering momentum, it’s gathering input from individuals who were the victims of abuse. So the inquiry in that respect is doing exactly what it was commissioned to do which is to pursue justice and accountability for the survivors of abuse. On the question of redress, I acknowledge this to be a significant issue, but it’s an issue for the government to address in consultation with the survivors. It’s not for me to pass this to the inquiry.”
Compensation hope for Scots Survivors of Institutional abuse
A scheme to compensate victims of in-care child abuse is being considered by Scottish ministers for the first time.
After decades of campaigning by victims’ organisations, John Swinney has acknowledged that financial redress “could play a part in Scotland in the future”.
In a letter to a Holyrood committee, the deputy first minister said that it would be inappropriate to wait until the Scottish child abuse inquiry had been completed before progressing with a compensation scheme. He suggested that a further three-month consultation would be required before ministers could reach a final decision on redress.
There was cautious approval for Mr Swinney’s letter but one leading campaign group said it was considering withdrawing from the inquiry because of the resignation yesterday of a third member of its panel.
Glenn Houston, an expert in health and social care, was appointed when the inquiry was founded in October 2015. He said he was quitting because he had accepted positions on the boards of two public bodies and felt that conflicts of interest could arise.
Last summer two members of the inquiry, Susan O’Brien, QC, the first chairwoman, and Michael Lamb, a psychologist, both quit.
Ms O’Brien is now suing the government for £500,000 and Professor Lamb said that the inquiry was “doomed” because of political interference.
“Survivors are considering withdrawing from this whole process until they are satisfied that survivors are placed at the centre of the inquiry”
The present chairwoman, Lady Smith, a high court judge, is the only remaining panel member. Mr Swinney pointed out that this was normal practice in Scotland, where public inquiries usually have only one adjudicator.
Mr Houston’s decision outraged Alan Draper, spokesman for Incas (In Care Abuse Survivors), who said that the inquiry had become “a process of failure”. He deplored its reliance on legal opinion, a factor that could deter abuse victims from coming forward.
Mr Draper said: “If Mr Houston was dissatisfied he should have the courage to say so. Accepting these two jobs implies he was looking for a way out. There is concern that the inquiry is dominated by the legal profession, without any balance from other professional groups who have a detailed knowledge of child abuse and its impact for survivors and their families. Survivors are considering withdrawing from this whole process until they are satisfied that survivors are placed at the centre of the inquiry. The inquiry is about the failure of the establishment to protect them from harm. This failure is continuing.”
However, Mr Swinney’s letter to the education and skills committee offered “a glimmer of hope”. Mr Draper said: “His words seem to indicate that redress is important. Worldwide there has been a move towards compensation but Scotland has been very slow.”
In his letter Mr Swinney noted that Lady Smith had specifically raised the possibility of a redress scheme when she made her opening statement to the inquiry. “We need to be mindful of the length of time some survivors have been waiting and that some survivors are elderly and frail,” he added.
His determination to have a formal consultation on redress prompted unease. Iain Gray, Labour’s education spokesman, welcomed the acknowledgement that survivors should not wait until the abuse inquiry was completed before compensation was paid but added: “This process is still being dragged out, especially considering how long survivors have been waiting.”
Under the terms of its remit, the Scottish inquiry is scheduled to conclude in 2019.
- Scottish Paedophilia: THE LIST of Institutions, Care Homes & Schools https://archive.is/n7JiO
- HOW TO HOLD A #CSA INQUIRY: #UK STYLE https://archive.is/7SlZH
- https://spidercatweb.blog/2017/02/21/bingo-its-a-full-house-as-the-third-scottish-child-abuse-inquiry-panel-member-resign/ https://archive.is/1U6ZT
- Former boss of child abuse probe sues Scottish Government for £500,000 https://archive.is/nnNmt
- CSA Inquiry Scotland: It’s 2 down 1 to go as Chairwoman quits https://archive.is/4rDTg
- Scottish child abuse inquiry witnesses ‘deserve answers’
- Fresh controversy engulfs troubled Child Abuse Inquiry #CSA #Scotland
- #CSA Inquiry. #Survivors spell out fears to Swinney & give him “one last chance”
- John Swinney to meet with historic child abuse survivors #SCSAinquiry #CSA
- CSA inquiry row ‘centred on use of public cash’, says BIG FAT LIAR Swinney
- Lady Anne Mather Smith to Head #Scotland’s #CSAinquiry. Hmm…
- Lady Smith #ReleaseTheTape