‘No prospect’ of justice from child abuse inquiry

Angela Constance. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Angela Constance. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Survivors of historical child abuse have “no prospect” of obtaining justice from a national inquiry unless its remit is widened, it has been claimed.

Campaigners will meet education secretary Angela Constance tomorrow to press for the scope of the inquiry to be widened to include paedophile priests who abused children outwith residential care.

The inquiry, which officially opened in October under the leadership of Susan O’Brien QC, is investigating the physical and sexual abuse of children in care up until December 2014.

But survivors’ groups have complained that by focussing on the abuse of children in care, the scope of the inquiry is not wide enough and will exclude those abused by members of the Catholic Church.

In a joint statement released ahead of their meeting with the education secretary, the groups White Flowers Alba and In-Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) said: “Survivors who suffered horrific criminal abuse at the hands of Catholic priests as children on Scots soil face no prospect of obtaining justice via the O’Brien inquiry because the inquiry has not been given the necessary powers.

“Ms O’Brien told survivors that this was a matter for the government to address. Ms Constance tells survivors she cannot interfere. This is despite the fact that she has the power under the Inquires Act.”

Survivors will also press the education secretary to approve interim compensation payments to ill and elderly abuse victims and will demand the SNP commits to lifting the three-year time bar on civil actions in its parliamentary manifesto.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland earlier, Ms Constance said: “Different survivors and different survivor organisations have different views, but I reported to parliament last year on the remit of the inquiry and what we’ve tried to do is strike the right balance. We want to ensure survivors don’t lose hope and the inquiry will report back within a reasonable timescale and be able to make clear and meaningful recommendations.

“Religious organisations and orders are included in the inquiry where they have looked after children in a residential capacity.”

Ms Constance said a draft bill on lifting the time bar would be introduced in the coming weeks.

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