By Democrat reporter
Sick and elderly victims of historic child abuse in state care will be able to claim payments of £10,000 each under a scheme announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, pictured right.
The money is in recognition of the abuse they suffered and aims to reach those who due to age or terminal illness are unlikely to survive long enough to claim compensation under a more comprehensive scheme the Scottish Government has promised to deliver by March 2021.
Mr Swinney said the payments would not undo the harm done by abuse people had suffered in childhood, but would provide “acknowledgement and tangible recognition” of their suffering.
The fast-track, flat rate payments have already been opened for applications, with a telephone support line to be operational on Monday.
Mr Swinney said the application process was being kept as straightforward as possible, so as to minimise delays. Abuse survivors will not have to prove they were abused by will need to provide documentary evidence that they were in the care of the state at the time they claim to have been abused.
£10 million has been set aside for the interim payments. Announcing the scheme last October, Mr Swinney offered an “an unreserved and heartfelt apology to everyone who suffered abuse in care in Scotland” on behalf of the Scottish Government, which he said is “deeply ashamed”.
He said the Government would be spreading the net wider to extract compensation for victims from institutions such as the churches and care organisations where child abuse had occurred.
Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland have settled a case taken against them following abuse at one of their homes which was named after Lord and Lady Polwarth, daughter of the late Admiral Angus Cunninghame Graham of Ardoch, Dumbarton.
Three siblings sued the Church of Scotland after being sexually abused by a care home worker.
The two men and a woman were attacked repeatedly by Ian Samson at Lord and Lady Polwarth Children’s House in Edinburgh. The girl was forced to have an abortion after Samson raped her.
Samson was jailed in 2013 at the High Court in Edinburgh for 14 years after being found guilty of 22 serious sexual offences between the 1970s and 1990s.
Eight of these offences happened at the Kirk-run care home with others occurring at different locations.
The siblings, who cannot be named for legal reasons, raised a civil action against the Kirk and have encouraged others to come forward.
In a statement released by their lawyers Digby Brown Solicitors, the siblings said: “That man was nothing short of evil. He robbed us of our childhood, our happiness and our future.
“He might have been jailed but we will never escape the torment of it all and it’s possible we never will.
“There’s no avoiding the memories of what we experienced, even trying to forget the snarl on his face.”
A Church of Scotland spokesperson said today: “The abuses perpetrated by Ian Samson at Lord and Lady Polwarth Home in the 1970s are matters which have been examined by the criminal courts and by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and for which we have expressed our deep and sincere regret.
“We became aware of the full facts in 2013 at which point we offered our full support to the victims. While Samson’s abuse of children was wider than his activity in Lord and Lady Polwarth Home, it felt important to us that there was full acknowledgement of the harm which did occur in our care at the time, and the longer term consequences for three siblings involved.
“The safety of children is of paramount importance to us, we have carried out a full independent review of the circumstances occurring in the 1970s so that we could learn any lessons for our safeguarding practices today.
“We did offer sight of that review to the family affected before it went for publication, through Police Scotland, however we are not aware of whether they have seen it.
“Whilst this settlement can never undo what has been done, we hope that it finally brings a sense of justice to the individuals affected and provides some small redress for the trauma which they experienced while in our care.”
Several of these cases have been lodged in the courts against the Catholic Church in Scotland.