Leading charity banned from child sex abuse inquiry

Teddy abuse

​Thousands of child sex abuse survivors now won't give evidence says charity 

20th February 2017 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

A leading charity which has played a crucial role in campaigning for a child sex abuse inquiry in Scotland has been banned from taking part.

Wellbeing Scotland – formerly Open Secret – has campaigned for victims for more than 20 years and supported over 15,000 victims but has been told it won’t play a role in the Scottish Government inquiry.

The organisation said it had not been given an offical reason as to why its evidence won't be used. 

The inquiry was set up in 2015 and is expected to last four years. It will culminate in a report to the Scottish government and will examine the extent of abuse of children in care.

Over 100 institutions are being investigated including residential homes run by the Catholic church and the Church of Scotland as well as local authority–run homes.

The ban from being a core participant has led to 30 clients of the Falkirk charity signing a letter urging Lady Smith, the senior judge chairing the inquiry, to reverse the decision while an appeal has been lodged by a Glasgow law firm.

Janine Rennie, chief executive of Wellbeing Scotland, said: “We are by far the largest organisation in Scotland that specialises in historical child abuse cases, and we feel it is imperative that we are afforded the opportunity to give evidence to the inquiry.”

Core participants can give oral evidence, cross-examine witnesses and receive financial support for legal representation.

One suggestion is that the charity has so many victims of abuse that its inclusion would significantly raise the inquiry’s costs.

A spokesman for the inquiry said: “Core participants have been judged to have a significant role in the matters considered by the inquiry. Applications are therefore determined on the basis of stringent rules. In this case, after thorough review, the application did not meet the criteria.

“We actively encourage all individuals and organisations with relevant information to contribute to the important work of the inquiry.

“As part of this, individuals can choose, at any stage of the inquiry, to seek legal representation. If an individual can’t afford a lawyer’s fees, the inquiry may be able to help with the cost.”

22nd February 2017 by Michael Stewart

Further analysis of the Inquiry Website and reading of the documentation, including Lady Smith's address at the Preliminary Hearing which is publicly available from the Inquiry team would have ensured a more balanced reporting of this item. The Inquiry team have advised a number of agencies that they will not be given core participant status at this point in the Inquiry process. This is not an absolute ban, but it does mean that at this point in the Inquiry process the criterion to be core participant has not been met.