The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been hit by another resignation, leaving it with just one panel member.
Glenn Houston, the only remaining member of the inquiry’s original panel, said he was resigning his post after securing non-executive director positions on the board of two public sector organisations.
Survivors’ confidence in the process has been tested, to say the leastIain Gray
His departure follows that of Professor Michael Lamb and Susan O’Brien QC, both of whom resigned last year, citing Scottish Government interference.
Ms O’Brien is suing the Scottish Government for substantial damages after it said it was intending to remove her from the post for “unacceptable” comments she made during the course of her work.
Alan Draper, a spokesman for In-Care Abuse Survivors (Incas), said survivors wanted an explanation from Mr Swinney and inquiry chairwoman Lady Smith following Mr Houston’s departure.
Mr Draper said: “Survivors are at a loss to understand this whole process of failure – because that is what it is. If Houston was dissatisfied, he should have the courage to say so. Accepting these two jobs implies he was looking for a way out.
“Survivors are considering withdrawing from this whole process until they are satisfied they are placed at the centre of the inquiry.
“The inquiry is about what happened to them and the failure of the Establishment to protect them from harm. This failure is continuing.”
The Scottish Government said Mr Houston would not be replaced.
Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “With all three of the original panel members gone, one of them accusing ministers of interference and one suing the Scottish Government, survivors’ confidence in the process has been tested, to say the least.
“John Swinney must now reassure the survivors that the inquiry will not be further delayed, but should also bring on more panel members to ensure the inquiry can carry out its remit efficiently.”
Mr Swinney said: “Following consideration of the matter, at this stage in the inquiry’s work, I have decided not to appoint a successor.
“Lady Smith will continue as chair of the inquiry and as sole panel member. This will mean it will take the same format as every other public inquiry established in Scotland under the Inquiries Act 2005.”