Former Scottish secretary Baroness Helen Liddell has been appointed to chair an independent review group set up to ensure the Catholic Church in Scotland implements recommendations made in a report into allegations of abuse.
The Labour peer said the group would be “transparent and fearless” in ensuring the recommendations of the commission led by the Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan are carried out.
Announcing the appointment, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said the group would operate separately from the church to review safeguarding standards and carry out independent audits.
Baroness Liddell, who served as British High Commissioner to Australia from 2005 until 2009, said: “This group will be a transparent and fearless means of ensuring that the McLellan Commission recommendations are implemented in full. We owe it to the survivors to ensure that their suffering is never repeated.”
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the Bishops’ Conference, said: “I am most grateful to Baroness Liddell for agreeing to become the first chair of the independent review group, which will review and audit the Catholic Church’s safeguarding work.
“In accepting the recommendation of the McLellan Commission to create an independent group, it was clear that a chairperson of national stature and proven competence would be required and I believe that, in Helen, these qualities are perfectly met.
“On behalf of the bishops of Scotland, I welcome her appointment and look forward to working with her as we continue to implement in full the safeguarding recommendations presented to us last year.”
The appointment follows criticism from Dr McLellan that the church was “appearing to ignore” his recommendations, which included ensuring justice is done for those who have been abused and that the church’s safeguarding policies and practices are rewritten and subject to external scrutiny.
The claim was rejected by the Bishops’ Conference, which said its commitment to implement the recommendations in full had not diminished.