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"My words were twisted to defend paedophile who abused my brother"
Victim's sister hits out at distorted defence of Quarriers pervert who preyed on abandoned children at care home.

By Neil Mackay, Home Affairs Editor Sunday Herald – 14/09/2003

THE sister of a man who was sexually abused at Quarriers care homes has accused BBC Scotland of selectively using an interview she gave to suggest that the paedophile convicted of abusing her brother was innocent.

In March this year, BBC Scotland's investigative programme, Frontline Scotland, screened a documentary entitled Secrets Or Lies. It broadcast claims that John Porteous, a man convicted of sexually abusing two boys in the 1960's and 1970's at Quarriers care homes, may have been the victim of a conspiracy. Quarriers' so–called "Children's Village" near Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, has been at the centre of long–running investigations into paedophile crimes.

The BBC's publicity material said the documentary "examines whether some of the children [Porteous] cared for made up false allegations against him in order to claim compensation".

Porteous, 70, who was a house father at the home caring for abandoned children, was jailed for eight years in November 2002. Another employee, Samuel McBrearty, 71, was convicted in 2001 of raping and assaulting three children. Strathclyde Police are investigating a series of allegations about abuse in Quarriers dating back decades.

One of the boys Porteous sexually abused was David Whelan, 46, now a successful businessman. He decided to abandon his right to anonymity as a sex crime victim after the BBC programme was aired. He did so, he said, in order to make sure Porteous, who is now trying to be freed on appeal, stays behind bars.

In the programme, the BBC used an interview with Whelan's sister, Irene, 47, to back up claims that Porteous was innocent. Irene has now come forward saying she told the BBC that Porteous beat her while she was in care with her brother in Quarriers. She also claims that she categorically told Frontline Scotland that she did not believe her brother was lying about the sexual abuse. She told the Sunday Herald: "The BBC used the interview selectively. Porteous did physically abuse me. I told the BBC that I was abused by him but they never used it. They were manipulating my interview. We had an argument over clothes and Porteous pushed me into the bathroom and grabbed my hair and hit my head off the sink. My nose was bleeding."

The BBC accepted that Irene did make this claim, and that it was never aired. Irene also says that Porteous once came into her bedroom when she was suffering with tonsillitis, pulled clothes out of her dresser, threw them on the floor and then told her to clear them up. When she refused, he dragged her from the bed.

"There is no way that I would ever have said that this man was innocent of abuse – physical abuse," she said. "I made a police statement about the abuse I suffered over a year ago. The BBC made me appear to say that Porteous would never do this sort of thing. Why would I say that when I know that he assaulted me? Why would I contradict myself?"

"I said Porteous may be innocent of sexual abuse because he never sexually assaulted me and I wasn't present when anyone else was sexually assaulted. I told the BBC there was no way that David would make false accusations – but that's not on the film either."

The BBC admits that it did not screen a comment from Irene in which she said: "I've no reason to think why my brother would have said that someone – John – had sexually assaulted him when he never."

Irene says that another quote which was not broadcast involved her saying how it was possible that Porteous could have sexually assaulted her brother.

"I agreed to take part in this film in order to tell the truth of my experience in Quarriers – not to defend John Porteous. I saw this man pulling kids around and putting me and other kids into an out–house in freezing weather for hours on end," Irene said. "He wasn't a good man – he was a violent man and he's a liar. If you didn't eat your food, you'd be forced to do so by him putting it down your throat. If you didn't do what he wanted then it was violence. If you didn't submit to what he wanted, then you'd get a slap."

"I have to apologise to my brother for the way I was represented on TV. It made it seem as if I was saying that Porteous did not sexually assault my brother – I didn't say that. Porteous is an appalling man and a child abuser and I want the BBC to send me a full, unedited version of my interview. Porteous got what he deserved for sexually abusing children. The BBC took extracts of what I said and selectively quoted me and used me to make me defend a person like Porteous. This documentary went out nationwide and in it I'm seen to defend Porteous when in actual fact I said the opposite in the interview as I told them he abused me. I want the BBC to apologise to both myself and my brother."

A tearful Whelan said: "I was very hurt and angry when I saw the programme. I couldn't understand why my sister had given a police statement about Porteous hitting her before the court case and then in the BBC film the way she came across was as if I was telling lies."

"They didn't use quotes about the abuse she suffered. The BBC manipulated the interview and made it look as if she was on Porteous's side and was attacking me. I feel like we've been used as pawns. This is about a convicted paedophile and the BBC manipulated a factual programme for his benefit. My sister has been in care, as have I, and she is vulnerable to being manipulated. How can it be in the interests of justice for the BBC to film a woman telling how a paedophile beat her, and then for them not to broadcast it?"

Dorothy Parker, editor of Frontline Scotland, issued a statement saying: "We always think very seriously about any programme on a potential miscarriage of justice. In this case a number of people voiced concerns about the conviction of John Porteous. Irene Whelan was one of those; we reported accurately what she told us."

Whelan responded saying: "The main voices raised concerning the conviction came from Porteous himself, who was interviewed by the BBC in jail, and from his wife Helen."

Helen Porteous was charged with assault and neglect but the charges were withdrawn and she was found not guilty.

Copyright © 2003 SMG Sunday Newspapers Ltd. No.176088

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