Scotland politics

Scottish child abuse inquiry witnesses 'deserve answers'

Abuse panel Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Professor Lamb - pictured on the right - was one of three members of the inquiry panel

The credibility of the Scottish government's child abuse inquiry is at risk after a key panel member resigned, an abuse survivors group has said.

Psychology professor Michael Lamb stood down on Tuesday over what he claimed were "repeated" threats" to the inquiry's independence.

Helen Holland, from In Care Survivors, said those who had already given evidence deserved answers quickly.

The Scottish government has rejected Prof Lamb's comments.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry - which concerns historical allegations in Scotland - will examine the extent of abuse of children in care, and identify any systemic failures.

It launched a formal call for evidence in March, but has already heard from some seriously ill or very elderly survivors.

Ms Holland told BBC Radio Scotland that she would like to hear in what way the professor felt the inquiry process was being hindered.

"I have been wracking my brains to find out what gain there would be in him making a statement like that if there wasn't any truth in it and there is no answer to that," she said.

"Until Prof Lamb is interviewed himself and we are able to identify exactly in what way the government were seen to be hindering the inquiry then that's something that definitely needs to be done."

Inquiry 'doomed'

Ms Holland said she had co-ordinated a lot of survivors to give evidence to the inquiry.

"They have already given their statements and they deserve answers, they deserve answers quickly," she said.

"I was really surprised that the chairperson herself didn't come forward and make a statement yesterday on the back of this and I think that needs to happen for the inquiry to gain credibility."

Prof Lamb was one of three members of the panel, alongside chairwoman Susan O'Brien QC and Glenn Houston. He said the project had "noble and worthy goals", but that it was ultimately "doomed".

Image caption The child abuse inquiry put out a call for potential witnesses to come forward in March

In a letter to Education Secretary John Swinney, he said: "It has become increasingly clear over the last nine months that the panel cannot act independently and that the Scottish government intends to continue interfering in ways large and small, directly and indirectly.

"Continuing interference threatens to prevent the inquiry from investigating thoroughly and taking robust evidence of the highest quality.

"Repeated threats to the inquiry's independence have undermined the panel's freedom and have doomed the inquiry before the first witness has been heard."

Prof Lamb also accused the Scottish government of delaying or preventing the appointment of "crucial" members of staff.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said on Tuesday: "We entirely reject Prof Lamb's comments about the Scottish government.

"The Scottish government has a clear obligation to fulfil its responsibilities within the requirements of The Inquiries Act 2005 and other relevant legislation. Our primary focus remains on supporting the successful operation of the independent statutory inquiry.

"Ministers are grateful to Prof Lamb for his work."

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