Saturday, 19 November 2016

Scottish child abuse inquiry will not widen its remit

"The Scottish child abuse inquiry will not widen its remit to include non-residential incidents of abuse, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced."

"He made clear the inquiry would look at allegations made by those who were in a care setting at the time `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`."

He said: "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 any way 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, where the evidence exists, this will be energetically pursued through the criminal courts."

He stressed: " If we set a remit which would in practice take many more years to conclude, we are failing to respond to those survivors of in-care abuse who have taken us at our word - in Government and in Parliament - that we will learn from their experience and, by addressing the systematic failures which existed, ensure it can never happen again..."

"Professor Michael Lamb, the other panel member who stepped down, will not be replaced, Mr Swinney said, adding that Lady Smith is `content` with that decision."

"He confirmed the Scottish Government has introduced its first Bill since May's Holyrood election, with legislation being brought forward to remove the three-year time bar on abuse victims making a claim in the civil courts..."

"He also announced a consultation with abuse survivors and others about possible financial redress, pledging to `fully explore the issues and gather a wide range of views`..."

Scottish Labour’s Education spokesperson Iain Gray said failing to widen its scope may be a `serious mistake`.

Mr Gray added: "The membership of the panel of this inquiry has been a source of controversy in the past. The Scottish Government must ensure that this limited membership does not impede or slow down the progress of the inquiry."

"Finally, the Cabinet secretary has further delayed a decision on redress and refused to provide interim payments for elderly survivors. That is disappointing."
"Meanwhile the child abuse inquiry in England saw a barrister quit this week with ‘concerns’ about its leadership. Aileen McColgan resignation followed senior counsel Ben Emmerson's in September, a day after he was suspended."

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