The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has announced that its preliminary hearing will be held on 31 January 2017, taking place at Parliament House, Edinburgh, from 11am.
No witnesses will appear nor will evidence be heard at the preliminary hearing. Rather, the Inquiry Chair, Lady Smith will explain the Inquiry’s approach to its work and will provide an update on the Inquiry’s current investigations. She will also:
- Set out the Inquiry’s key procedures, including how people and interested parties may participate in the Inquiry and the different ways in which the Inquiry is gathering evidence; and
- Share information about the proactive communications campaign to drive public awareness of and engagement with the Inquiry.
Siobhan Kelly, partner
Once again the IICSA has hit the headlines. That has not been because of the work of the Truth Project which is now operating in London and Wales; the further research being commissioned in connection with child sexual abuse; or preparation for the first seminars at the end of November. They are examples of the Inquiry “getting on with the job” but those stories have been hidden by more controversy and criticism. The Inquiry needs to address the negative publicity otherwise it will lose all trust and face more accusations of cover-up and secrecy, the irony of which will not be lost on those who have suffered abuse.
The IICSA has published details of the salary of Prof Jay and the cost of the Inquiry to date (£14.73m). As expected the salary is lower than that of Dame Goddard. More surprisingly the first year budget of £17.2m was not all spent and the surplus was returned to the Home Office. This surplus may be due to good financial housekeeping or possibly because progress was not made in certain previously anticipated areas. One such area may be the lack of a permanent location for the hearings to proceed or because it has taken longer to reach the current stage and so hearings have not yet been possible.
Prof Jay’s salary will be £185,000pa, just over half of the sum to Dame Goddard and without all the additional costs. The two largest cost elements of the Inquiry to date have been staffing and legal costs. These were followed by Estates and Information Technology. No details have been given of the budget for the next year but it is fair to assume that at least a similar sum will be spent as the case studies and hearings proceed.
Paula Jefferson, Partner
Today the Home Affairs Committee heard oral evidence from the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, and Mark Sedwill, Permanent Secretary, Home Office regarding the work of the Home Secretary. Dame Lowell Goddard who had been invited to attend did not and sent a memo (reported on yesterday) specifying her reasons for her resignation.
As Amber Rudd is due to attend before the Home Affairs Select Committee tomorrow and a memo from the former Chair is commented on in the press, the new Chair has made a statement announcing an internal review. However there is no change to terms of reference or the introduction of any new restrictions on the scope of the Inquiry.
Professor Jay has said hat she has initiated a wide-ranging internal review of the Inquiry’s ways of working and they are looking at different approaches to evaluating the information received. To date the Inquiry has received over 500,000 pages of evidence.
The full statement from Professor Jay can be accessed here.
Paula Jefferson, Partner
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2016 / 2017 has been revealed on 6 September. Before June 2017, the Scottish Government intends to introduce the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament. When making the announcement of the legislative programme upon this, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland said that the Bill “fulfils a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.” She added “As the Human Rights Commission has pointed out, the three year limitation rule is not appropriate for child abuse” explaining that, “the reasons for victims not coming forward until later in life are entirely understandable.” She concluded by advising the Scottish Parliament that “This Bill will ensure that the justice system works better for victims of such terrible crimes.”
Written by Frank Hughes, Partner
As we reported on this blog on 28 July 2016, Lady Smith, a Scottish Judge since 2001 and, from 2011, a Scottish Appeal Court Judge, is the new Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. Unlike the English and Welsh Inquiry, the present remit of the Scottish Inquiry excludes non-State institutions. Hence, for instance, those alleging abuse in religious settings in the community, in contrast to State-provided care institutions, are not covered at present by the Scottish Inquiry.
Pressure is, though, building to extend the Scottish Inquiry’s scope. Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) was reported, in the 31 August 2016 Herald newspaper, as saying that “we put forward (to the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney) a powerful argument about extending (the scope of the Scottish Inquiry).” He adds, though, that he is “not hopeful”.