Survivors threaten to walk away from abuse inquiry
SURVIVORS of historical child abuse are threatening to boycott a public inquiry into the issue amid criticism of the education secretary, Angela Constance.
The group In-Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) said it was being “treated with contempt” by Ms Constance.
The national inquiry began its work late last year under the leadership of Susan O’Brien, QC.
However, many abuse survivors feel its remit is too narrow because it only covers those abused in residential care. There are also concerns about compensation payments and access to legal aid.
In a statement, Incas said: “Survivors have made repeated requests for a face-to-face meeting. Ms Constance has, however, continued to refuse to engage with survivors.”
The group said a letter from the education secretary in which she said she was “unable to meet at this time” had been the “final straw”.
The group added: “We are moving away from a ‘survivor-centred’ inquiry to one where survivors are merely witnesses to be heard and then excused.”
Another group, White Flowers Alba, said the inquiry was “deeply flawed and unfit for purpose”.
It said the inquiry’s decision not to investigate paedophile priests who carried out abuse outwith residential care settings was a “national disgrace”.
Labour MSP Graeme Pearson said: “Everyone agreed there was a need for an inquiry into historical cases of child abuse. If the [survivors] feel they are being ignored and walk away that would be very serious indeed.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Officials and ministers have engaged extensively with survivors and continue to do so, working with them to expand the specialist support available to them, to look at removing the restrictions preventing many from seeking legal address and setting the extensive remit for the statutory public inquiry.
“Survivors called for an independent public inquiry, ministers listened and established it with full powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.”