Abuse Inquiry Progresses against Backdrop of Anger
By Stephen Naysmith
March 22, 2016
Education secretary Angela Constance has had another ill-tempered meeting with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, as the Scottish Government's inquiry into historic abuse prepares to take another step forward.
The chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, Susan O' Brien QC will today [Weds] launch her first formal call for evidence.
However the latest step in the inquiry, which will take four years and cost an unknown amount, takes place against an acrimonious backdrop of concerns from some abuse survivors about its scope.
Meanwhile, the unrelated legal issue of whether people can take civil action against the institutions or individuals who abused them is not part of the inquiry but is also causing tension.
Survivor group representatives met with Angela Constance on Monday, calling for the government to honour a commitment to seek an equable solution for any victim who was abused prior to 1964.
If they existing time bar is lifted, these victims will still not be legally entitled to seek civil redress.
Although a solution was proposed Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors Scotland (Incas), said it was unclear how the discretionary support scheme offered by Ms Constance would help.
"Survivors present felt it was an attempt to buy off survivors rather than 'the equable scheme' that was promised," he said. "Survivors were angry and distressed and some left the meeting in tears. Survivors said they will continue to fight the government to bring forward an equable solution."
"Ms Constance also refused to extend the remit of the Inquiry, which will as a result prevent thousands of survivors from giving evidence to the Inquiry. Survivors feel that they have been betrayed, yet again,by the Scottish government ."
The Scottish Government has insisted the scheme cannot be widened to cover those abused in non-residential care as a more circumscribed inquiry will be able to delver answers on behalf of victims more quickly, while controlling costs.
At a meeting in Glasgow today, Ms O'Brien, along with by the other inquiry panel members Glenn Houston and Professor Michael Lamb – will set out the ways in which individuals and institutions can give their evidence to the inquiry. Ms O’Brien said: “On 26 February, we started taking evidence from people who are elderly or seriously ill and we continue to do so. I will explain the process for giving evidence to the Inquiry on 23 March.”