Abused siblings told they can sue Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order

STV [Glasgow, Scotland]

November 25, 2022

By Kevin Scott

The pair raised historic abuse claims after being assaulted at a children’s home in Midlothian in the 1970s.

Two siblings who were abused at a children’s home have been told they can now sue a Catholic order.

The pair – known as ‘B and W’ – raised historic abuse claims against the Sisters of Nazareth over incidents in Lasswade, Midlothian, in the 1970s.

Both legal bids were originally thrown out in January after Sisters of Nazareth claimed it could not get a fair trial due to the passage of time.

But three appeal judges on Friday ruled the cases should not have been dismissed and granted the siblings permission to continue with their claim for six-figure compensation.

Kim Leslie, partner at Digby Brown, the legal firm representing the siblings, said: “We welcome today’s ruling, however as the case is ongoing we cannot comment further.”

Residential institutions run by the Sisters of Nazareth were “places of fear, hostility and confusion” for many children, according to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

It concluded in 2019 that children suffered abuse and sexual abuse at institutions run by the religious body in Scotland between 1933 and 1984.

The inquiry had a particular focus on Nazareth Houses in Aberdeen, Cardonald, Lasswade and Kilmarnock.

Lady Smith, chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said at the time: “The Nazareth Houses in Scotland were, for many children, places of fear, hostility and confusion, places where children were physically abused and emotionally degraded with impunity.

“There was sexual abuse of children which, in some instances, reached levels of the utmost depravity.

“Children in need of kind, warm, loving care and comfort did not find it. Children were deprived of compassion, dignity, care and comfort.

“It was suggested in evidence that applicants may have colluded to present fictitious accounts about their time in their care, fuelled by resentment towards their families and an appetite for compensation. I reject all such suggestions.”

The inquiry found that the physical abuse children endured included being hit with belts, canes, sticks, broom handles, hairbrushes, shoes and wooden crucifixes.

Some also had carbolic soap stuffed into their mouths and had their heads banged together.

Those who were bed-wetters were abused by being subjected to humiliation and various types of punishment such as being forced to “wear” their wet sheets.

Children were also emotionally abused in “very cruel” ways, which included being routinely separated from their siblings and children being confined in cupboards or dark, locked rooms as punishment.

The inquiry reported the outcome of its investigations to Scottish ministers and make recommendations to them.

Sisters of Nazareth has been contacted for comment.