Survivors have called for a judge to be appointed to lead Scotland’s national child abuse inquiry following the resignation of its chair.
QC Susan O’Brien stood down on Monday after the Scottish Government began moves to have her removed for comments described as “totally unacceptable” by a clinical psychologist who was working with the inquiry team.
Dr Claire Fyvie, head of the Rivers Centre for Traumatic Stress at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, was funded by the Scottish Government to provide a three-month support service for those taking evidence from survivors of child abuse.
It has now emerged that Dr Fyvie, who reported her concerns about Ms O’Brien in May, is a former SNP candidate, who stood to become a councillor in North Lanarkshire in 2008.
Groups representing survivors of abuse are meeting education secretary John Swinney tomorrow and will push him to appoint a judge to replace Ms O’Brien.
The chair’s departure followed that of Professor Michael Lamb who quit the inquiry last week, describing it as “doomed”.
Both panel members complained of government interference and have expressed frustration that junior counsel could not be employed to take statements from survivors.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government had been unwilling to pay lawyers £100 an hour for the work, adding it needed to make sure public money was being used “effectively and wisely”.
Alan Draper, a spokesman for In-Care Abuse Survivors (Incas), said:
“We argued from the start for a judge-led inquiry; a remit which would include all agencies which had a duty of care and an inquiry which could make key recommendations on redress. They didn’t agree to any of those key points. They haven’t listened to us from the word go. We’re now months into this and how far have we got? About an inch. As far as we’re concerned, the mess is at the government’s door.”
Andi Lavery, of survivors’ group White Flowers Alba added: “The inquiry must be paused and re-done with a judge from Canada, for instance. It’s got to be impartial.”
Commenting on the role of Dr Fyvie, a spokeswoman for NHS Lothian said:
“Dr Fyvie is a leading expert in her field and as such was selected to provide training and professional advice to the inquiry team. Having spent a large part of her career working directly with survivors of childhood abuse, she believed it was her professional responsibility to speak up in light of her concerns. Dr Fyvie followed the correct procedures in raising her concerns with the inquiry team and Scottish Government and has the full support of NHS Lothian.”
Dr Fyvie “a former SNP candidate, who stood to become a councillor in North Lanarkshire in 2008.”
Well, what can I say? The true colours o the SNP are being hung out in full technicolour for all o Scotland to see..
The SNP have made me proud…
Proud that I saw through the bastards & DID NOT vote for them and have refused to support anything they have done.
& it aint been easy for anyone that has opposed the SNP. Not wi their yappy wee terrier fan club nippin at our heels. Anytime anyone has dared have the audacity to question the SNPs integrity we have been attacked by SNP guard terriers. Who are so blinded by the glare from Sturgeon’s ever slippin halo that they canny see what has been staring them in the face.
D’ya know, I have been told that my stance against the SNP makes me “NO REAL SCOT” cheeky bastard. If bein a Scot means being so stupid I vote for a party that is clearly screwin up EVERYTHING.. Then I don’t want to be a Scot.
But to all Scots who have had the intelligence & the foresight to see though it all & who has had the balls to stand their ground when bein verbally attacked by half the country… WELL DONE & thank you
And just so as to make my position crystal clear..
I STAND WITH THE SURVIVORS.
All they are askin for is a FAIR hearing & I think that’s the VERY LEAST they deserve. They have a right to a fair, independent inquiry.
If they want a Judge lead Inquiry….. THEN BLOODY GI THEM ONE
A survivors’ group has said they have lost confidence in the Scottish government’s child abuse inquiry
It follows the resignation of chairwomen Susan O’Brien, who stepped down after the deputy first minister began formal proceedings to sack her.
The In Care Survivors group said the handling of the inquiry and accusations of government interference had been “traumatising” for abuse victims.
John Swinney denied interfering and said due process was being followed.
Mr Swinney had begun formal proceedings to sack Susan O’Brien QC over inappropriate comments she reportedly made at a training event in February.
He said that Ms O’Brien had “revealed views” which child abuse trauma experts had judged to “indicate a belief system that is incompatible with the post of chair of such an inquiry”.
- The Scottish government has published letters relating to Ms O’Brien’s resignation
- What events led up to the resignation of Susan O’Brien?
However, when she stepped down on Monday, Ms O’Brien claimed the Scottish government was interfering in the inquiry, a claim also made by Prof Michael Lamb, who resigned last week from the panel.
‘Traumatising for survivors’
Helen Holland, a spokeswoman for In Care Survivors, told the Good Morning Scotland programme: “I think it’s been awful, and the people who are most affected by this are the survivors themselves – the very people who should be protected.”
She added: “There was a lot of talk about re-traumatisation for survivors. This whole event has been traumatising for survivors. Last week I spent just two nights constantly on the phone to survivors, phoning with concerns that they had about the whole thing.”
Ms Holland said survivors were most alarmed by accusations of interference in the inquiry by ministers.
She said: “We need answers. We need to know exactly what happened, exactly what the interference is and at what level that interference has been there. At every step of the way, everybody who has been involved with this since 2007 has said there needs to be absolute independence from government.”
“I would be lying if I sat here and said I had faith in the inquiry. As it stands at the moment, no. But it can be rectified if it’s dealt with properly.”
Mr Swinney, who is due to meet survivors on Thursday, denied undue interference and insisted government was trying to ensure costs associated with the inquiry were appropriate.
He said: “The government has an obligation to make sure that public money is used effectively and wisely.
“One of the issues that we were concerned to be persuaded about was, was it really necessary for counsel – members of the Faculty of Advocates – to do all of the taking of evidence from individuals? Couldn’t that be done by other individuals who were professionally trained to do so, which would have been done at a lower cost?”
“The government has a proper responsibility in terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 – the law – the make sure that public money is being used appropriately for the inquiry and we have got an obligation to ensure that we manage the cost.”
By BBC Scotland health correspondent Eleanor Bradford
Deputy First Minister John Swinney says the row is, in part, due to the fact the Scottish government has been trying to keep costs down by limiting the number who give evidence to the inquiry’s lawyers, or whether someone else could take the evidence instead.
Expensive inquiries always draw public criticism, but placing limits on the way evidence is gathered also raises concerns.
The recent Penrose Inquiry into contaminated NHS blood supplies limited the amount of evidence submitted.
Out of hundreds of people who were infected, Lord Penrose allowed only six to give oral evidence to the inquiry.
That led to a widespread belief amongst survivors that it was biased from the start, and when the report was finally published they branded it a whitewash.
Yet it still cost the taxpayer £12m.
Mr Swinney also denied he had been slow to react over the allegations surrounding Susan O’Brien.
He said he was not made aware of her “unacceptable” remarks until May. He added: “I can well understand the concerns of survivors groups.
“Officials wrote to Ms O’Brien on 20 May indicating that I was considering terminating the appointment in respect of some remarks that had been reported to me.”
He insisted: “I’ve gone through due process. I wanted to make sure that I acted properly and fully and in a transparent way in handling this matter.”
Ms O’Brien’s resignation leaves the inquiry, which concerns historical allegations of child abuse in Scotland, with only one panel member. It is scheduled to last four years. source BBCNEWS
I hope Swinney & Sturgeon & anyone else at ScotGov that’s involved in this FARCE understand what they have done to the survivors.
I doubt they ever will, but I bloody hope they do.
IF THEY EVEN HAD AN OUNCE OF COMPASSION, THEY’D BE ON THEIR KNEES APOLOGISING & BEGGING SURVIVORS FORGIVENESS
HOW DARE THEY TREAT PEOPLE LIKE THIS?
I hope, that between them, they manage to scrape together enough o a conscience to have the decency to HANG THEIR HEADS IN SHAME
But I very much doubt that too…
I’m ashamed both OF THEM and FOR THEM
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