A group of child abuse survivors are to have their case heard by the English inquiry into the issue amid claims they face “no prospect of justice” in Scotland. White Flowers Alba, which represents about 30 adults abused in childhood, has been awarded “core participant” status by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, which is being led by Professor Alexis Jay. The group, whose members were allegedly abused by Catholic priests, said it had been failed by the Scottish inquiry, which covers only those abused while in care.
A spokesman said: “We had a cut-off date to make ourselves known to the English inquiry, so to protect the interests of our members we applied. “We face no prospect of justice in Scotland. We had to act. Had we had an equitable inquiry in Scotland, this would not have been necessary.”
The group’s members include those allegedly abused at the former Fort Augustus Abbey school in the Highlands. While the Scottish inquiry does include abuse in care settings such as Fort Augustus, White Flowers Alba said its members had more faith in the English inquiry to investigate properly. Confirming the group’s core participant status last month, the inquiry’s then chair, Dame Lowell Goddard, said that while her terms of reference only extended to England and Wales, the men had been abused by institutions with their headquarters south of the Border.
She said: “The individual members of White Flowers Alba whom I have designated as core participants experienced sexual abuse in Scotland by members of the English Benedictine congregation, or, in one case, by clergy from a Catholic order whose headquarters are in England. While the individuals experienced sexual abuse in Scotland, which falls outside the inquiry’s terms of reference, the alleged institutional failure relates to an institution based in England and Wales.”
Survivors have repeatedly called for the remit of the Scottish inquiry to be extended to cover organisations which had a “duty of care” to children such as the Catholic Church and the Scouts. Deputy First Minister John Swinney has agreed to look at the issue, but there is growing frustration that the Scottish Government has not acted quickly enough.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This government has taken unprecedented steps to give a voice, and support survivors of child abuse in care, including establishing one of the widest ranging public inquiries that Scotland has ever seen, with full powers to compel witnesses to give evidence. “The Deputy First Minister has agreed to consider the scope of the inquiry remit, taking account of the feedback from a number of survivor representatives with differing views and the need to maintain confidence that it will report back within a reasonable timescale with a sufficient focus to provide tangible answers for how we keep children safer today and in the future.” scotsman.
Victims repeat call for wider remit 31 aug 2016
Victims of historic child abuse have urged deputy first minister John Swinney to extend the remit of a troubled inquiry, but fear the Government is set to ignore their pleas.
At a series of meetings with three groups representing abuse survivors, Mr Swinney said there were arguments against extending the reach of the inquiry, which is headed by a judge, Lady Smith, after Susan Boyd QC quit earlier this year.
These included expense, the length of time the inquiry might take, and the fact that little new will be learned from increasing the ground the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry will cover. However most victims feel there is a fundamental unfairness about the inquiry’s remit, which will cover abuses suffered by children who were in state care, but not, for instance, those abused in religious settings in the community.
Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) said:
“we feel the current remit excludes large numbers of survivors who were abused and we put forward a powerful argument about extending it. But I am not hopeful, because Mr Swinney seemed preoccupied by the fact that he might be criticised, or it might take another year. It is not about what will be learned or how long it takes. This has consequences for each and every victim. If he doesn’t extend the remit, it will be not just disappointing but devastating for most survivors.”
Mr Draper said victims of abuse were also waiting to see if changes to the law to eliminate a time bar which prevents many of them from seeking legal redress will be included in the Scottish Government’s legislative plans.
Andi Lavery, of the group White Flowers Alba, which represents many victims of abuse within the Catholic Church, said members had welcomed the chance to tell Mr Swinney about their cases and the problems childhood abuse was still causing them on a daily basis.
However he added: “Thee question is will he do anything to address our concerns? I feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the meetings with survivors and their representatives had been constructive.
He added: “We talked about outstanding issues in connection with the statutory public Inquiry and the roll-out of a new national survivor support service to give essential help and assistance to those who in the past were abused by the very people they should have been able to trust. As we work to ensure that survivors across the country get improved support and easier access to justice, it is important to Ministers to continue liaising with them and to hear directly from them. I am grateful to the many survivors who have taken part in meetings, who have written in, or who have engaged in the consultations we held in recent years to ensure we get the right approach to supporting them and removing the barriers they face.” Herald