Charity head apologises over children’s home abuse allegations

A TV investigation has uncovered allegations of abuse at a charity's children's home in Dunbartonshire - Lagarie - including claims of sexual abuse and physical cruelty spanning decades
A TV investigation has uncovered allegations of abuse at a charity's children's home in Dunbartonshire - Lagarie - including claims of sexual abuse and physical cruelty spanning decades

The head of a charity which ran a children’s home has apologised after a BBC Scotland investigation alleged residents were abused.

The Disclosure programme uncovered allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Lagarie Children’s Home in Rhu, near Helensburgh, Argyll.

A TV investigation has uncovered allegations of abuse at a charity's children's home in Dunbartonshire - Lagarie - including claims of sexual abuse and physical cruelty spanning decades

A TV investigation has uncovered allegations of abuse at a charity's children's home in Dunbartonshire - Lagarie - including claims of sexual abuse and physical cruelty spanning decades

Run by Christian charity the Sailors Society, the home took in hundreds of the children of seafarers between 1949 and 1982.

Former resident Angela Montgomery and her sisters Mary and Norma were sent to the home because their mother died young and their father was at sea.

She told the programme Reverend William Barrie, who took charge of the home with his wife Mary in 1972, raped the sisters hundreds of times.

She said it began when his once-comforting night visits turned sinister when he said she was not kissing him “properly”.

She said: “And he stuck his tongue in my mouth, and I gagged, but I made the fatal mistake of spitting at him.

“And then I paid dearly for it, because in front of the other girls, he punched me in the face.

‘I remember when I eventually did give him a full blown kiss after he’d forced me, I went and told Norma and Mary, and they said – ‘well, we’ve been doing that for ages’.”

She said the sisters initially made fun of him for being “disgusting”, but then “it got really serious, and...so...it was no longer a laughing matter”.

She said she and Norma were also taken outside the home on weekends away and abused by strangers.

Another former resident, Philp Donald, said the matron when he was in the home, Anne Millar, would pick him up by the ears, throw him into a cold bath and put her soap-covered fingers down his throat.

He alleged she would also take him to the shed of the home’s gardener, Norman Skelton, where he would be raped.

Roddy Austin, who was sent to the home as a toddler in 1960, said Matron Miller punched him in the face on arrival for calling her granny.

The programme reports the Montgomery sisters and others gave statements to the police about the abuse in the early 2000s, but no-one was charged.

A second police investigation, prompted by the Sailors Society, concluded in 2016.

Mrs Barrie was questioned, and a report was sent to the fiscal, but she was never charged and died in late 2017, her husband having died years earlier.

Matron Millar is now dead and Mr Skelton died in 1999.

Stuart Rivers, chief executive of the Southampton-based Sailors Society, told the programme: “I was horrified when I heard these accounts.

“We do regret any abuse happened and we have apologised unreservedly that this abuse happened.”

Lagarie was recently announced as one of the homes being investigated by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.