EDUCATION secretary John Swinney has tried to allay fears about the future of Scotland’s child abuse inquiry after a key panel member quit in protest at government interference.
Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at Cambridge University, resigned from his position on Monday, claiming the inquiry was “doomed”.
But in a letter to survivors of historical abuse, Mr Swinney said he “entirely rejected” allegations of state meddling.
Mr Swinney said: “My primary objective is now to ensure that this situation does not impact on the progress that the inquiry has made so far, and will continue to make over the coming weeks and months. I have, therefore, acted swiftly and decisively to ensure the continuing successful operation of the inquiry and have instructed my officials to begin planning for the appointment of a new panel member to the inquiry.”
“My key focus is, and will remain, that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry uncovers how the abuse of children in care was perpetrated – to avoid a repeat of the systemic, institutional failings which saw children abused by the very individuals who were entrusted by the state and others to care for them over an extended period – and to ensure that vulnerable young people are better protected in the future as a result of its findings.”
QC Susan O’Brien is leading the inquiry into the historical abuse of children in care, which is expected to last four years, and has promised to “shine a light into the dark corners of the past”.
Alan Draper, a spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors, said: “This resignation will have a major impact on survivors coming forward.
“Some survivors groups are considering whether they should continue supporting the inquiry. If there is any suggestion of ministerial interference, then that minister – whoever it is – should resign.”
It has been claimed some survivors have had statements re-taken in recent weeks.
A statement on the inquiry’s website yesterday said: “The chair wishes to thank Professor Lamb for his invaluable contribution to the inquiry. In particular, for sharing his expertise in how to listen to survivors sensitively. The inquiry wishes to reassure anyone with an interest in its work that this continues.”