Catholic nuns raise ‘bias’ issue over child abuse inquiry chairwoman


Catholic nuns who faced a barrage of compensation claims from youngsters in care are seeking to overturn the appointment of a leading lawyer as head of an inquiry into historical child abuse in Scotland.

The Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth and The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul are seeking to set aside the decision of the Scottish Ministers to make Susan O’Brien QC chair of the inquiry in a judicial review.

Miss O’Brien, who previously sat on an inquiry into the death of Caleb Ness in Edinburgh, was appointed in May to the new role by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance and her appointment is due to begin on July1.

The religious groups have expressed concerns that Miss O’Brien will end up acting as judge after previously appearing on behalf of people who were pursuing claims against one of them.

Their counsel Alastair Duncan QC told the Court of Session in Edinburgh: “The Scottish Ministers would be acting unlawfully, unreasonably and irrationally in pursuing such an appointment.”

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