Charity: we did not destroy sex abuse files

Lady smith, chair of the scottish child abuse inquiry photo cred nick mailer

Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry.

Barnardo's Scotland has robustly denied allegations it destroyed crucial child abuse files

Graham Martin's photo

5th June 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

A leading Scottish children’s charity has hit back at allegations it destroyed crucial files at the heart of the ongoing inquiry into sex abuse at care homes.

Barnardo’s Scotland has hit back after a newspaper reported that victims were told information had been lost in a flood.

Instead, the report in the Sunday Herald claimed the charity “systematically” destroyed records.

Spokespeople for groups representing the victims of child abuse spoke of their distress and anguish at revelations that files had been lost.

Helen Holland, deputy chair of In Care Abuse Sorvivors (Incas), said: "An ordinary person might think they were trying to cover their tracks".

However, Barnardo’s claims that it has been a victim of “inaccurate” reporting.

It says there has been a “misleading” interpretation of an opening statement to the inquiry by solicitor Graham Watson, which claimed that the charity retained “around 10%” of “staff records or administrative or governance records”.

The charity insists children's records have been “meticulously” retained for every child who has been in its care.

Director Martin Crewe said: “We have not systematically destroyed staff records. We did note to the inquiry that our staff records are not as complete as the children's records.  

“Those between 1940 and 1960 are sketchy and incomplete because they were kept on cards. We have better records from the 1960s onwards as they are archived on microfilm.

“We made no mention of a flood and are unaware what this refers to.”

The report stated that Barnardo’s does not provide residential care anymore and noted that it did not include an apology to victims in its opening statement.

This is in contrast to groups like Quarrier's, Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, Sisters of Nazareth, Good Shepherd Sisters, De La Salle Brothers and the Christian Brothers, who said they "deplored that physical sexual abuses could occur".

However, Crewe said: “We do still provide residential care and noted this in our statement to the Inquiry.

“We did not include an apology in our opening statement as it could have sounded insincere before the inquiry actually began. Barnardo's has a strong legacy of duty to those who were in our care and we continue to support them. We have been working closely with survivors' groups and will continue to show our support for the Inquiry through any means we can.”

More than 60 institutions, including several private schools, are being investigated by the inquiry.

Chaired by Lady Smith, it is looking in detail at historical abuse of children in residential care.

It is expected to report in late 2019 – four years after it was set up.