Charity apologises amid abuse claims

Cropchild abuse

A home operated by the Sailors' Society is the subject of a BBC Disclosure documentary which aired this week

17th September 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A charity has apologised after allegations that residents of a Scottish children’s home were abused.

A BBC Scotland investigation has uncovered allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Lagarie Children’s Home in Rhu, near Helensburgh, Argyll.

The home was operated by the Sailors’ Society between 1949 and 1982, and aimed to support children from seafaring backgrounds.

However now former residents have spoken of alleged incidents of abuse that they were subjected to. Last week, it was revealed that Lagarie was one of several institutions that was being examined by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry,

Angela Montgomery and her sisters Mary and Norma were sent to Lagarie as their mother had died young and their father was at sea.

She told the programme Disclosure, which was screened on BBC One on Monday 17 September, how she and her sisters were subjected to sustained sexual abuse after Reverend William Barrie took charge in 1972.

Montgomery said: “He (Barrie) stuck his tongue in my mouth, and I gagged, but I made the fatal mistake of spitting at him.

“And then I paid dearly for it, because in front of the other girls, he punched me in the face. I remember when I eventually did give him a full blown kiss after he’d forced me, I went and told Norma and Mary, and they said – ‘well, we’ve been doing that for ages’.”

Roddy and Philip Donald, now 58, say they were sexually abused by Lagarie’s gardener Norman Skelton, who died in 1999.

The Montgomery sisters and others gave statements about the abuse to Strathclyde Police in the early 2000s, but no one was charged.

A second police probe, prompted by the Sailors’ Society, concluded in 2016. Barrie died in 1993.

Stuart Rivers, chief executive of the Sailors’ Society, spoke of his regret at any abuse that happened at Lagarie.

He told the programme: “I was horrified when I heard these accounts. We do regret any abuse happened and we have apologised unreservedly that this abuse happened.”

The charity has written to former residents it has had any contact with to date apologising for any abuse suffered and encouraging them to make contact with police and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. Rivers has also said he is willing to meet with survivors.

The Sailors’ Society is based in Southampton and is one of the contenders for the charity of the year award at next month’s Charity Times Awards.