A lawyer for victims said there was evidence of a ‘Quarriers way’ during the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
CHILD abuse survivors at a Bridge of Weir home say the scale of attacks is comparable to a “house of horror” where eight people have been prosecuted for 145 criminal offences.
A lawyer for victims at the facility in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, drew similarities with the notorious Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey.
Stuart Gale QC told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry there was evidence of a “Quarriers way” similar to the “Jersey way” of protecting powerful figures and preventing whistle-blowing.
Speaking during closing statements of phase one of the inquiry, he also said survivors are disappointed with the “weasel words” used by some organisations to avoid issuing full, unequivocal apologies for abuse under their care.
More than 20 former residents of Quarriers during the 1970s have complained of abuse.
Gale said Quarriers “continue to underplay the extent of abuse that occurred within the institution and the attendant failures of their systems to prevent abuse.”
Victims have criticised Quarriers and numerous other organisations for the lack of record-keeping at the time of the abuse and possible removal of records in later years.
Mr Gale added: “We cannot understate the further harm caused to survivors by the intimidation of witnesses in the criminal trials and the tactics deployed on behalf of Quarriers in the civil litigations, which were designed to doubt the evidence of those whose abusers had been convicted.”
Quarriers were contacted but could not be reached for comment.
More than 150 people have so far reported being the victims of historical child sexual abuse within Scottish football.
A major Police Scotland investigation was launched in November after the force received reports of “non-recent child abuse within football”.
Since then, the force said it had made a total of 11 arrests.
Similar allegations of sexual abuse have been made by former players across the UK.
In its latest update on the investigation, Police Scotland said a total of 162 people had come forward to either report or provide information about child abuse in Scottish football, with the force also having “proactively made contact with a number of victims and witnesses”.
Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal said: “As of 30 June 2017, 11 people have been arrested, more than 150 people have reported being sexually abused as a child within a football club setting and 295 crimes have been recorded.”
She said the force’s specialist investigation team was “progressing well” with the inquiry.
Urging any remaining victims to contact either the police or the dedicated NSPCC helpline, she said: “Our assurance to anyone who has not felt able to report so far is you are absolutely not alone.
“We will listen, we will investigate regardless of where or when the abuse occurred, and we will take prompt action to ensure that no-one else is at risk of harm.”
She also urged anyone with any information or concerns about anyone who may pose a risk to children, or who may have abused a child, to the police or their local social work department.
A BBC Scotland investigation revealed in December that former youth coach and referee Hugh Stevenson was allowed to carry on working in football for several years after being reported to police and the SFA over child sex offences.
Torbett was jailed for two years in 1998 after being convicted of abusing three former Celtic Boys’ Club players, including former Scotland international Alan Brazil, between 1967-74. He “vehemently denies” the new allegations against him.
Jim McCafferty, a former youth coach who was the kit man for Celtic, Hibernian and Falkirk, was arrested in Belfast after allegations were made against him.
Separately, allegations have also been made against coaches who were formerly involved with clubs including Motherwell, Partick Thistle and Rangers.
The allegations involve incidents said to have happened between the 1970s and early 1990s.
The Scottish Football Association has set up an independent review tasked with examining child protection “processes and procedures” in place both currently and historically in Scottish football.
More than 60 institutions, including several top private schools, are being investigated by the Scottish child abuse inquiry, it has been confirmed.
The new chairwoman of the inquiry, Lady Smith, said they were among 100 locations where abuse is alleged to have taken place.
She said several boarding schools, including Fettes College and Gordonstoun, were being investigated.
The inquiry will look in detail at historical abuse of children in care.
Lady Smith replaces the original chairwoman who resigned in July 2016. Susan O’Brien stood down complaining of government interference.
Speaking at the start of the inquiry at the Court of Session building in Edinburgh, Lady Smith insisted the investigation would be fully independent.
She confirmed that several boarding schools were being investigated by inquiry staff.
Other institutions being investigated include those run by faith-based organisations and major care providers like Quarriers and Barnardo’s.
Institutions under investigation
The former Keil School
Merchiston Castle School
Morrison’s Academy (when it was a boarding school)
Institutions run by religious orders
Sisters of Nazareth
Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
De la Salle Brothers
Church of Scotland (Crossreach)
Aberlour Child Care Trust
Widower’s Children’s Home
Local authority establishments
Clerwood Children’s Home, Edinburgh
Colonsay House, Perth
Nimmo Place Children’s Homes, Perth
St Margaret’s Children’s Home, Fife
Linwood Hall Children’s Home, Fife
Kerelaw Secure Unit, Glasgow
St Katherine’s Secure Unit, Edinburgh
Larchgrove Remand Home, Glasgow
Source: Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Lady Smith also said child migrants were “expressly included in the inquiry”, with staff working to contact people in countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand who may have suffered abuse in Scotland.
The judge told the court that she would act independently and without bias, and was fully independent of government, police and prosecutors.
The judge added she would not have agreed to chair the inquiry if she had concerns about its independent status.
The inquiry states its purpose as being “to investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland”, while considering “the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty”, in particular seeking any “systemic failures”.
Its terms of reference say it covers a time period “within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse”, up until the point the inquiry was announced in December 2014, and will consider if “changes in practice, policy or legislation are necessary” to protect children in care from abuse in future.
The inquiry has been plagued by problems since it was set up in October 2015. More than £3.5m has been spent on it during this period.
Lady Smith was appointed to replace Ms O’Brien, but Mr Swinney said he was confident a replacement for Prof Lamb was not needed – although he added that experts could be called in to assist Lady Smith and remaining panel member Glenn Houston.
There were also complaints about the remit of the inquiry, with survivors’ groups claiming some abusers could be could be “let off the hook” if children’s’ organisations, clubs and local parish churches were not specifically included in the probe.
However, Mr Swinney told MSPs that it was clear there was “not unanimity on this issue”, concluding that the probe should focus only on in-care settings so that it remained “deliverable within a reasonable timescale”.
He said “terrible crimes” had been committed in other settings, such as day schools and youth groups, but said criminal behaviour should be referred to the police and would be “energetically pursued through the criminal courts” where evidence exists.