Child abuse survivors quit Scottish inquiry to seek ‘justice’

Professor Alexis Jay, who is leading the English sex abuse inquiry. Picture: SWNS
Professor Alexis Jay, who is leading the English sex abuse inquiry. Picture: SWNS
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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.”