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More Claims are raised for victims of Kerelaw abuse.

By William Tinning the Herald, 16/06/07.

Three further out-of-court settlements are being considered for victims of child abuse at Kerelaw, the scandal-hit residential school.

News that other settlements for abuse victims are under consideration comes as calls grow for a public inquiry into reports of extensive physical and sexual abuse at the former centre.

The Herald revealed earlier this week that a three-year investigation into the residential unit had uncovered about 40 abusers amongst its staff.

Investigators working for Glasgow City Council, which took over the school from Strathclyde Regional Council warned many more workers knew of the abuse but did nothing about it.

The first offer of compensation, made after two staff members of the Ayrshire facility were convicted last year of sexually and physically abusing children in there care, has been agreed.

Insurers acting on behalf of the former Strathclyde Council, which ran Kerelaw until 1995, made the offer despite Scotland's usual three-year statue of limitations. The payments did not come from public funds.

The move was seen as a breakthrough in the fight for compensation for people who make historic allegations of abuse but who's claims can be time-barred under Scots law.

Yesterday Scotland's most experienced child-abuse litigator, who represents the victim who has agreed compensation as well as 21 further former pupils at Kerelaw, said one of the two insurers was considering out-of-court settlements for three other cases.

Cameron Fyfe, a solicitor at Ross Harper in Glasgow, said court actions were also proceeding for 18 other Kerelaw victims.

Most of the victims, including the client who has agreed compensation were abused by the art teacher Matt George and care manager John Muldoon, who were jailed in May last year for 10 years and two and half years respectively.

They denied the claims made against them and are understood to be preparing appeals.

Meanwhile, the joint Glasgow branch secretaries of the union Unison joined the calls for a public inquiry on behalf of current and past members. John Murdoch and John Devine say in a letter in today's Herald the report makes “no reference to the direct causes of Kerelaw's problems or the extreme difficulties under which staff were working”.

They call on Glasgow's social work director David Comely “to make his allegations more specific and investigate them; failing which, he should issue an immediate apology to the staff he has traduced”.

On a separate front, an MSP yesterday demanded the Scottish Executive set up a database to prevent foreign criminals working with children. Christine Grahame SNP MSP for South of Scotland region, urged the Executive to back her call for Interpol - the international police agency - to introduce the database.

Ms Graham said the move would highlight people who had committed offences abroad and who were seeking to work in Scotland with vulnerable adults or children, so background checks could be made.

Ms Grahame said vetting agency Disclosure Scotland could only access records held in the UK, and it was up to foreign applicants to declare offences voluntarily.

She called this “wholly unsatisfactory” and is urging Justice Minister Kenny McAskill to make representations to ensure greater sharing of information.

She said: “The new government has inherited a system which clearly has massive holes in it.

“Its impossible to know with any certainty how many foreign employees working with vulnerable adults or children may have convictions against them which they have chosen not to disclose.”


Copyright © 2007 Newsquest Media Group

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