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Fury at aid for Beast in the Belltower

Paedophile gets taxpayers' cash to fight victims' claims

By Marion Scott, Sunday Mail, 04/04/2004

ONE of Scotland's most notorious paedophiles has been given legal aid to fight civil damages claims against him.

Evil John Porteous - known as The Beast in the Belltower and found guilty of a sickening catalogue of abuse at the Quarriers Village - will use the public cash to stop grown-up former children in his care suing him for damages.

The award, believed to be the first involving a convicted paedophile, has brought outrage from child abuse campaigners. A house father at Quarriers Children's Village at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Porteous, 71, was jailed for eight years in November 2002 for abusing two boys in his care in the 60s and 70s.

But despite harrowing evidence, he was found not guilty of charges involving former Quarriers boy Michael Orr, now 35. He has been awarded legal aid to defend Michael's claim. Porteous was also the first paedophile to use a legal loophole to have three years knocked off his sentence after the charge of shameless indecency - of which he was convicted - was scrapped.

At his trial, Lord Hardie said Porteous had used his position of trust to satisfy his sick lusts and caused untold psychological damage to his victims. But he will now get tax-payers' cash to fight the £50,000 claim.

Yesterday a Scottish Legal Aid Board spokesman said: "An application from a convicted paedophile is considered on its merits like any other.

The aid was condemned by the representatives of sex abuse victims.

Frank Doherty, of In Care Abuse Survivors, said: "This is a gross abuse of taxpayers' funds, particularly as hundreds of sex abuse victims are denied legal aid to fight for justice."

Fiona Leggat, of the Moira Anderson Foundation, said: "Our legal system is again exposed as one that works against victims."

We can reveal that Quarriers' insurers, Norwich Union, are also denying claims from victims Porteous has been found guilty of sexually abusing.

One, David Whelan, 46, said: "Porteous was found guilty in a court of law of sexually abusing me. Quarriers and their agents are challenging the criminal justice system with their appalling stance."

Legal experts warn the moves are being closely watched by insurance companies eager to quash the rising numbers of damages claims going to court.

Scotland's top civil lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, said: "It cannot be reasonable to grant Legal Aid to a paedophile who has been convicted of abusing other children in the very same home."

Last night, Phil Robinson, chief executive of Quarriers, said: "We cannot comment."

Quarriers have been rocked by a series of sex abuse cases.

Two weeks ago, housefather Alexander Wilson, 61 - who is Porteous's brother-in-law - was found guilty of a 19-year reign of abuse involving eight girls.

The number of Quarriers abuse allegations has reached such levels that Strathclyde Police have called in a special Home Office child abuse squad, codenamed Operation Orbona.

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