Abuse survivors threaten to quit inquiry

A group representing survivors of historical child abuse says nine of its members have died waiting to receive financial redress from the Scottish Government.

John Swinney will meet survivors next week. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
John Swinney will meet survivors next week. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

In-Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) says it is considering its continued involvement in the national inquiry due to the failure of the Scottish Government to discuss the issue.

It wants the government to offer interim payments to elderly survivors before the inquiry – which is expected to last four years – has finished its work.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is due to appear before MSPs on Tuesday to discuss the inquiry and will meet survivors the following week.

Alan Draper, parliamentary liaision officer for Incas, said: “The question of redress continues to be an issue that the government is unwilling to discuss.

“We submitted proposals via our legal adviser, at the request of the previous education secretary, with an expectation that this would form the basis for ongoing discussions. We did not even receive an acknowledgement.

“We will be making a further request of government when we meet Mr Swinney. Any failure to engage with this issue by government will make us question our continuing involvement in what is already a flawed process.”

Mr Draper added: “Overall, our experience over the past 20 years has been that we have had to fight successive governments to make any sort of progress on achieving justice, accountability and redress for the thousands that suffered and the many that continue to suffer the consequences of the abuse they suffered and the failure of so many to protect them from that abuse. Sadly, nine of our members have died since the announcement of the inquiry – denied the justice that they deserved.”

Campaigners want interim payments to be made now to around 100 elderly survivors of abuse, who do not have time to wait for civil actions.

Last year it emerged councils have paid out around £1.5 million in compensation to the victims of child abuse during the past decade.

But the Scottish Government has so far resisted calls to follow the example of Ireland, where a number of survivors were awarded interim payments of €10,000.

Survivors have also called on the Scottish Govermnent to widen the remit of the inquiry which currently includes only those abused while in a residential setting, such as a boarding school or children’s home.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The deputy first minister has agreed to take account of the various views of survivor representatives and of the need to maintain confidence that the inquiry will be sufficiently focused to ensure systemic failures are identified, lessons learned and made public within a reasonable timescale. His discussions with survivor representatives over recent months have included possible further options on the issue of redress. The outcome of those considerations will be announced in due course.”