Barnardo's apologises for child abuse at homes

One of the country's largest children's charities has issued an apology for historical abuse alleged to have taken place in some of its institutions.

Lady Smith at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which will turn its attention to Barnardo's on 27 November. Photograph: Nick Mailer
Lady Smith at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which will turn its attention to Barnardo's on 27 November. Photograph: Nick Mailer

Barnardo’s said it accepted that children had been abused while in its care, something it said was a “matter of deep regret”.

Campaigners criticised the charity after its lawyers failed to offer an apology at the outset of the latest phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry last month.

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The inquiry, led by Lady Smith, is hearing evidence relating to the alleged abuse which took place in a number of institutions run by Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardo’s.

While both Quarriers and Aberlour offered apologies on the opening day of the current phase, Barnardo’s did not. However when approached by Scotland on Sunday, Barnardo’s said it was happy to reiterate an apology it made last year.

The inquiry is currently hearing evidence relating to Quarriers, but will turn its attention to Barnardo’s on 27 November.

Last year, Martin Crewe, Barnardo’s director in Scotland, and Sara Clarke, a former assistant director of children’s services, appeared before the inquiry. Clarke said the charity was aware of 42 complainers and said the alleged abusers included former staff, residents and “external adults” who visited the institutions.

Around a quarter of the allegations related to Glasclune in North Berwick which closed in the 1980s. A former member of staff was convicted in 2004 of sexual abuse dating to the 1970s.

During her appearance before the inquiry last year, Clarke said the charity apologised for “failing to protect” children in its care, saying it was “truly sorry for the harm that has been caused”.

Alan Draper, a spokesman for In-Care Abuse Survivors, said: “Apologies are fine, but they are not enough. Did they investigate the abuse, what was their approach to the victims? And what are they prepared to do now in repairing the damage that inevitably takes place. Are they now prepared to compensate people?”

A spokeswoman for Barnardo’s said: “Barnardo’s did make an apology in the earlier stages of the inquiry and we are happy to reiterate this. Barnardo’s does accept that some children were abused while they were in our care. It is a matter of deep regret to the charity that we failed to protect any particular children, at any particular time and in any particular homes. We apologise to those children who suffered abuse while they were in the care of Barnardo’s.”