WILDCAT Extending child abuse inquiry’s remit will lengthen process, warns minister aye right

Extending child abuse inquiry’s remit will lengthen process, warns minister

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The
Education Secretary has insisted he is still “wrestling” with whether
to extend the remit of Scotland’s historical child abuse inquiry.

John
Swinney told Holyrood’s Education Committee he has held discussions
with the inquiry’s chair, judge Lady Smith, about expanding its scope.
However, he warned MSPs that widening the inquiry will inevitably extend the length of time it takes to conclude.
Ministers
set up the inquiry in 2014 to examine allegations of abuse from
youngsters placed in children’s homes and foster care, as well as those
cared for by faith-based organisations or in long-term hospital care and
boarding schools. Survivor
groups have called for the remit to be extended to cover abuse that took
place out with residential settings, but in comments made last month
Lady Smith said the terms had been set when the inquiry began.
In
a letter to the committee, the In Care Abuse Survivors group (Incas)
accused the Scottish Government of “dancing around” the issue, which it
said was a “major concern” for survivors.
“It
is clear from recent pronouncements from Lady Smith that there have
been no discussions with her about the remit of the inquiry, which she
described as fixed,” it said.
“We
fail to understand why discussions have not taken place, as Mr Swinney
has a clear responsibility to undertake those discussions.” Responding
to the letter, Mr Swinney told MSPs it was “incorrect” on that point.
He
said: “I have personally discussed the question of extending the remit
with Lady Smith. I ask the committee to understand that whilst I
appreciate strong things are said, some of them aren’t accurate.
“I
said to people I would look at the extension of the remit and I’m
considering that point and I’ve taken steps to address that.”
He added: “I take it very seriously but I have to be mindful of a number of questions in relation to the remit.
“If
I extend the remit of the inquiry… I would inevitably be extending the
length of the inquiry. And I have to be mindful of the views of
survivors who want this exercise to be proceeded with and not to be
something that becomes longer than it needs to be, because they want to
get progress on these questions. “So the dilemmas on this are not easy
because they ultimately will come down to that question that is
unavoidable, that the length of time of the inquiry will be extended if I
decide to extend the remit and that’s a significant issue with which
I’m wrestling.”
Lady
Smith was appointed to head the inquiry after the resignation of her
predecessor Susan O’Brien QC following claims she had made comments that
were ”offensive” to survivors.
Another
panel member – Professor Michael Lamb – had already stepped down,
saying the review was ”doomed” due to interference by ministers. 
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