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Quarriers faces more allegations of child abuse

by Iain Wilson, the Herald 28/11/02

ONE of Scotland's largest childcare charities is facing more court cases involving suspected paedophiles.

Reports have been lodged with the procurator-fiscal by the special police unit investigating allegations of abuse by staff on children from Quarriers village near Glasgow dating as far back as the 1960s.

The unit yesterday declined to say how many reports were submitted or the number of former staff involved, but it confirmed more may follow.

Detective Inspector Ross Mackay. head of the six-strong inquiry team, stressed its timescale was "endless" and appealed to anyone with information to make contact.

The Herald understands at least nine separate complaints about suspected child molesters are being investigated.

Two high-profile convictions involving former "house parents" at the Quarriers village, near Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, have already occurred.

Samuel McBrearty. 70, was jailed for 12 years in September, 2001 for repeatedly raping two girls and indecently assaulting a third between 1961 and 1968. The offences began when one girl was just eight, one 10, and the third 11.

John Porteous, 69. was earlier this month jailed for eight years for forcing two boys to commit sexual acts between 1969 and 1976, starting when they were aged eight and 12.

The prospect of more charges coincides with fears that paedophiles will have a better chance of escaping prosecution if a recommendation by an influential Westminster committee becomes law.

Child abuse cases should proceed only "with the court's permission" if 10 years have passed since alleged offences took place, according to the home affairs select committee.

Had such a recommendation already been law. and taken up in Scotland, the Quarriers cases involving McBrearty and Porteous might not have been allowed.

They would have run the risk of being time-barred, with the five victims deemed too old when they finally disclosed.

McBrearty's victims would have had to complain to police by 1984 at the latest - some 17 years before his arrest, or risk courts deciding if prosecutions should proceed.

In the Porteous case, complaints would have been required between 1992 and 1996.

John, another alleged Quarriers' victim, last night insisted there must be no moratorium on prosecutions.

He acknowledged the committee recommendation would apply only to England if approved, but added: "Where the Commons take the lead, Scotland tends to follow."

 
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