The Scottish Government has now announced the appointment of Lady Smith, a Judge of the Court of Session, as the new chair of the Scottish Inquiry into Child Abuse. Lady Smith has been a Judge since 2001 and has sat in the Scottish Civil Appeal Court (the Inner House) since 2011, as well as being a President of the Scottish Tribunals and having played a lead role in the Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse.
The Scottish Government has confirmed its continuing commitment to an in-depth independent Inquiry and the need for clear, meaningful recommendations to prevent future systemic failings to children in care. It has stressed the terms of reference also include foster care, boarding schools and long-term hospital care, as well as publicly-run institutions. The Scottish Government statement has also confirmed now the terms of reference will be reviewed in the coming weeks, at the request of survivors and also taking into account previous consultations. Survivors groups have been critical that the terms of reference did not extend to non public bodies such as religious groups.
In a statement Lady Smith has noted that children placed in residential care over many years have not been afforded the protection they deserve.
The Inquiry, some nine months old, is expected to last four years and has cost £2m so far, with some evidence already having been taken. The three member Panel had been rocked in recent weeks following the resignation of the previous Chair (Susan O’Brien QC) and Professor Michael Lamb, amid allegations of Scottish Government micro-management and interference by the resigning Members but with the Scottish Government rejecting these allegations and countering that the former Chair had resigned after a formal procedure to remove her had been initiated.
Written by Frank Hughes, Partner