Scottish Child Abuse inquiry appoints new chair

Written by Tom Freeman on 27 July 2016 in News

Senior judge appointed to inquiry which saw previous chair quit amid accusations of government interference

Lady Smith - credit Scottish Govt.

Senior judge Lady Anne Smith has been appointed to lead Scotland’s child abuse inquiry, a position which has been vacant since previous chair Susan O'Brien QC controversially resigned at the beginning of July.

Lady Smith will take over the independent inquiry into the abuse of children in care from next month, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced in a letter to Holyrood’s education committee.

Swinney had begun proceedings to remove O’Brien after complaints had been made about “unacceptable comments” but in her resignation letter she accused the Scottish Government of attempting to control the inquiry.


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Swinney said the new chair would bring “a wealth of knowledge and experience” to the inquiry as former president of the Scottish Tribunals.

He also said he was considering widening the terms of reference of the inquiry.  “Scotland must have an in-depth independent Inquiry that pursues critical lines of evidence to uncover the truth.”

Lady Smith said it was important for the inquiry to continue.

“Protection of the innocence and wellbeing of children is of fundamental importance to a healthy society. The duty of institutions entrusted with the care of children to afford that principle the highest priority is indisputable,” she said.

“Sadly, many children placed in residential care in this country have, over a period stretching back years, not been afforded the protection they deserved. Their voices now require to be heard and questions of when, where, how and why it happened require to be fully addressed.

“Consideration also needs to be given to determining whether further changes in current practice, policy or legislation are required to ensure children in care in Scotland are protected from such abuse. Real efforts must be made to try to effect healing, repair, restoration of dignity and hope for the future.”

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