Historical Abuse Systemic Review Team
Meeting – 23 Walker St, Edinburgh
Date - 28th April 2006
Thank you for the responses to the 23 points for clarification that we sent to you in June 2006 as a result of our Meeting on the above date.
Your responses have given us cause for concern and have raised the following very significant issues:-
1. At the above Meeting you indicated to us the high degree of independence that your Review Team would have during the Historical Abuse Systemic Review process and how you would maintain and defend that independence throughout the full extent of the Review. It is difficult to understand from your responses how you can be viewed as independent, given that your remit and scope of inquiry is controlled and prescribed in advance by the Scottish Executive, in particular, by Mr Peter Peacock, Minister of Education and Young People.
2. It was irrefutably established during the recent court cases, which were successfully prosecuted by the Scottish Judiciary (who are clearly independent of the Scottish Executive), that there was a marked failure, down through the generations, of the systems which were supposed to be in place to protect children in care in Quarriers Homes. These same court cases also raised the question of whether or not such systems were actually in place. For your Review to be truly effective, it is absolutely imperative that your Review Team be unfettered in your investigation of all of these systems and that your independence is not constrained by any pre-conditions set by any external agency.
3. The court cases also established that the past professional carers and medical professionals employed by Quarriers, the appointed personnel on the Quarriers management committee, the local Police Service and the Local Authorities who were charged with the responsibility for ensuring the protection and safety of children placed in Quarriers Homes, failed over a prolonged period in their duty of care to many of these children. It is obvious from our perspective, that these organisations must be included in your investigation process.
4. The lack of clarity in your responses with regard to your independence, leads to the conclusion that only a truly independent inquiry with real powers (such as the Irish Government conducted - reference Francis D. Murphy, Helen Buckley, and Larain Joyce, The Ferns Report, presented by the Ferns Inquiry to the Minister for Health and Children, Dublin: Government Publications, October 2005), will actually get to the truth of why such abuse happened to so many Scottish children placed in care for their own protection by the State.
5. In view of the limited remit and lack of powers which have been given to your Review Team, the motives of the Scottish Executive have to be questioned. Does the imposition of such restrictions ensure that the issues are concealed from public gaze and the various organisations protected from being held to account for allowing crimes of abuse to be inflicted on the children of Scotland in care Homes?
We are also aware that The Scottish Executive and their officials are also currently engaged in the Scottish Court of Sessions continuing to use blocking and challenging tactics on the basis of Timebar
(De la Salle cases). These individual cases of abuse have already been proven in the Scottish Courts.
6. There are many obvious reasons why the Scottish Executive would prefer these issues to remain hidden from public view, e.g.
6.1 The misguided notion that public confidence would be eroded in the present day care system.
6.2 the public would learn how past failures of the established system failed to adequately protect, monitor and supervise the welfare of children in care in Quarriers Homes.
6.3 the families of some abused children would learn for the first time of the scale and the severity of the abuse.
6.4 the management of Quarriers Homes was seen to encourage widespread child abuse to continue throughout the generations by failing to take appropriate action whenever a child reported abuse.
6.5 the management of Quarriers Homes was seen to permit the crime of child abuse to continue by promoting a culture which attracted those people inclined to behave in that way.
6.6 the reputation and image of Quarriers, the brand, would be damaged.
6.7 the future level of voluntary funding, bequests or donations to Quarriers would be adversely affected.
6.8 the continued negligence and deficiencies of the medical, local authority, religious and law enforcement organisations would be exposed, which would be a serious embarrassment to the establishment and would be difficult to reconcile.
6.9 the management of Quarriers Homes was seen to flagrantly breach the law of the land while entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable and defenceless children in Scotland.
6.10 establishing the truth would have far reaching legal implications across the whole of Scottish society.
6.11 the cost of a full independent judicial inquiry would be too great a burden for the Scottish taxpayer.
6.12 the truth would open the floodgates for wholesale compensation claims by abuse victims. Which the State is clearly trying to avoid given there original implicit failure to ensure that the organisations were properly administered and children cared properly.
6.13 some may see it as an opportunity to raise spurious allegations of abuse motivated by false allegation claims. If the current system or remit is not sufficiently robust to investigate the fully the issues. Which would then be used as a tool to demean genuine victims by the officials and others (as has happened in Ireland).
6.14 Quarriers’ management would finally be compelled to give an unreserved apology to those victims who suffered abuse while entrusted to their care.
6.15 Quarriers current management have also lent support to paedophiles and their supporters by there actions and failure to intervene including issuing media statements that they would allow convicted paedophiles to return to where vulnerable adults and children are currently cared for in Quarriers Village by the organisation.
6.16 the State are viewed as being complicit in the child abuse, since it placed many of the children in care, yet failed to institute appropriate checks to continually monitor the systems for child protection, care and welfare.
7. While every one of these points is worthy of serious consideration, not one of them should be allowed to take priority over the search for truth and justice. Only a full independent inquiry unconstrained by preconditions or influenced by the Scottish Executive, but with full judicial powers, can effectively address these priorities. After all, the true test of the morality of a mature, civilised, democratic society is reflected in the way it treats the most vulnerable members of that society and in the way it accepts that the cost of justice is a price worth paying. Nothing should be permitted to impede the pursuit of these worthwhile endeavours.
8. The setting-up of a Judicial Inquiry would also support the previous request made by Quarriers’ Management for a Commission of Inquiry into child abuse in Quarriers Homes.
9. Other matters of real concern stimulated by your responses are:-
8.1 the statement that your Review Team have no control over the decision making processes with regard to the final document.
8.2 the statement that you cannot make any recommendations based on your findings.
8.3 the now difficult and awkward dilemma of whether or not people, who may regard your Review as being a pointless exercise, should continue to participate in, or disengage from, your Review process.
8.4 the suspicion that the Review process is really about Mr Peter Peacock’s Department gaining access to any information, fact and evidence that respondents may have at their disposal.
8.5 the suspicion that Mr Peter Peacock’s Department will use that information, fact and evidence in formulating a defence against our demand for a Full Public Inquiry into Quarriers Homes.
8.6 the lack of clarity in your responses as to whether you will include in your investigation, all relevant organisations involved in the care of children in Quarriers.
8.7 the possibility that your report will fail to be fully transparent.
8.8 the possibility that your report will not be made public.
10. We are also very concerned that if your Review is not sufficiently comprehensive, rigorous and bold, in action and investigation, a golden opportunity will have been missed to restore confidence in the Scottish care system and another generation of Scottish children in care will face the same threat of abuse. The basis for this possibility is derived from some of the evidence in the court cases, also the fact that paedophiles and their supporters have embedded themselves in the care system in Scotland and in particular, Quarriers Homes due to past nepotism and corruption of the care system by these individuals. Including the Quarriers of today.
Cc: Mr Peter Peacock MSP, Minister.Scottish Executive Officials: Rachael Edgar, Shirley Laing.