MSPs ‘betraying’ survivors of historic sex abuse

THE Scottish Government has been accused of “betraying” survivors of historical abuse over plans to lift a time bar on legal action.

The Government said that a draft bill would be brought forward. Picture: PA

The government is currently consulting on removing a three-year bar on bringing civil actions in abuse cases.

The move would allow survivors of historical physical and sexual abuse to seek compensation from those responsible for their suffering in cases dating back to 1964.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

But survivors are angry that legislation needed for the move was left out of the Scottish Government’s “Programme for Scotland”, which was published earlier this month.

The Scottish Government said that a draft bill would be brought forward before the end of the current parliamentary session.

Alan Draper, a spokesman for In-Care Abuse Survivors (Incas), said: “The time bar is the key issue for survivors, so its scrapping is the litmus test for the government’s commitment on this issue. They issued a consultation document for feedback, but then not to find anything in the proposed legislation . . . you can imagine how we’re feeling.

“They’ve looked at this issue on at least two previous occasions and time bars have been set aside in other parts of the world. It’s certainly not beyond the wit of man to sort something out.

“When can we trust them? They make a clear commitment and then there’s absolutely nothing.”

He added: “More and more survivors are getting old, dying or committing suicide - that’s why we feel betrayed.”

A national public inquiry into the historical abuse of children in care is due to begin next month, led by QC Susan O’Brien. The inquiry will last five years.

Labour MSP Graeme Pearson, who was among those campaigning for the public inquiry, said Ms O’Brien had to make the issue of time bar an early priority.

He said: “I think the government has kicked it into touch. I would suggest that it’s an issue that Susan O’Brien should address at a very early stage and give a strong indication of the passage of travel she intends.

“Only by so doing will she give the survivors some degree of comfort that a solution is on its way, albeit slowly.”

The Scottish Government said a bill would be brought forward in due course.

A spokeswoman said: “It is the Scottish Government’s clear intention to take action on this important matter.

“We therefore intend to share a draft bill by the end of this parliamentary session, with a view to taking forward or supporting legislation in the next session of the Scottish Parliament.

“We are currently consulting on time bar and we welcome the views of respondents on the matters raised.”