Expert: Child Abuse Enquiry “doomed due to Scottish Government interference”

Expert: Child Abuse Enquiry “doomed due to Scottish Government interference”

An independent expert has resigned from his position on Scotland’s child abuse inquiry claiming it is “doomed” due to Scottish Government interference.    Logo-The-Scottish-Government-high-res

Professor Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at Cambridge University, said the inquiry’s fact-finding was being “constrained” and “micro-managed” by ministers.

QC Susan O’Brien is leading Scotland’s inquiry into the historical abuse of children in care, which is expected to last four years.

Professor Lamb joined Ms O’Brien at a launch event in March during which the QC told abuse survivors the inquiry would “shine a light into the dark corners of the past”.

But in an open letter to education secretary John Swinney, Mr Lamb said he had grown frustrated that the Scottish Government was continuing to interfere “in ways large and small, directly and indirectly”.

He said: “Continuing interference threatens to prevent the Inquiry from investigating thoroughly and taking robust evidence of the highest quality.

“To be worthwhile, the inquiry must ask fearlessly about what happened to children in care, who and what institutions failed in their duties of care at the time and subsequently, how the affected individuals can ‘be made whole,’and how we can ensure that such unconscionable events never happen again.

“Crucially, its fact-finding should not be constrained or micro-managed by one of the bodies whose actions or failures to act may ultimately be criticised.”

Mr Lamb, who headed a research unit at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Washington DC for 17 years, said “repeated threats” to the inquiry’s independence had undermined its work and left it “doomed before the first witness has been heard”.

He said the government had delayed or prevented the appointment of members of staff and said the inquiry had to wait for prolonged periods before making key decisions.

The inquiry is looking into the treatment of children by institutions – including churches and independent boarding schools – going back decades.

Alan Draper, a spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas), said Mr Lamb’s resignation was a “devastating indictment” of the government.

He added: “This will have a major detrimental effect on the confidence of survivors. Mr Swinney must make an urgent statement to parliament.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “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.”   Scotsman 


Professor Michael Lamb’s resignation exposes the hypocrisy of the Scottish Government’s determination to press ahead with its controversial Named Person Scheme 

Their alleged concern for the “well-being” of children (from even before they are born!) has led the Scottish Government to effectively label  every parent in Scotland a potential abuser, so what possible reason can there be for their interference in any independent enquiry into child abuse in institutions in Scotland?  What is it – if anything – that they are trying to hide?  

And, crucially, why are the Bishops not leading a serious fightback against the Scottish Government’s interference in family life, now that the Government’s hypocrisy has been exposed by the resignation of Professor Lamb?  It seems the Government’s alleged concern to protect children is bogus and – since the Catholic Church in Scotland is committed to honesty in dealing with and exposing any child abuse by Catholics, whether by priests or laity – the Bishops should be as concerned as the rest of us at this apparent interference in an important enquiry into the abuse of children in institutions. Yes? No?  It would, would it not, give an excellent example of disinterested leadership, if the Bishops were to speak out now in support of Professor Lamb’s concerns.

Comments invited… 

Comments (18)

  • Faith of Our Fathers

    We all know there’s a simple reason for this Catholic Priests are easy prey why can’t the rest not be investigated. Our Parish Priest was accused of abuse and the accuser then said nothing happened. Of course mud sticks but these inquires let’s face at are to me a waste of time . As soon as it gets near someone powerful the plugs pulled. All that garbage about the Saville affair proved that. He wasn’t taken to task because he would have named to many powerful people. Also our so called Scottish Government morally is rotten to the core ,the so called Leaders of The Parties are to busy with their own affairs to bother about something they would see as just a nuisance.

    June 30, 2016 at 4:45 pm
    • editor


      I’d be interested in your thoughts about whether the Scottish Bishops ought to speak out to rebuke the Government for not co-operating with the independent enquiry. I suggest you read my blue comment again, and offer your thoughts on that important part of the blog article.

      June 30, 2016 at 10:41 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      “Our Parish Priest was accused of abuse and the accuser then said nothing happened. Of course mud sticks ”

      I am sure that happens a lot as people accuse priests for all sorts of motives, revenge, money, etc.

      I also agree that the enquiries are probably a waste of time. I still think that the Scottish Government is wrong to hamper this investigation though. That looks very bad for them.

      July 1, 2016 at 10:30 am
  • Josephine

    There’s no way the Scottish Bishops will support Professor Lamb. He might have trashed the Church’s handling of abuse cases, and so they’ll be only too glad that the enquiry has been scuppered.

    This shows the hypocrisy of the Scottish government, right enough, but also the hypocrisy of the Bishops. They’re all part of the establishment, looking out for one another. They pretend to care about the welfare of children but they couldn’t care less, IMHO.

    June 30, 2016 at 11:59 pm
  • Nicky

    “Mr Lamb, who headed a research unit at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Washington DC for 17 years, said “repeated threats” to the inquiry’s independence had undermined its work and left it “doomed before the first witness has been heard”.”

    The 65 million dollar question has to be why? Why is the Scottish Government interfering in this enquiry? what’s it got to hide?

    This smacks of a conspiracy, and why is the question that needs answering.

    As for the Scottish Bishops – they’re never going to speak out against the Government. That would make them unpopular. LOL!

    July 1, 2016 at 12:08 am
  • Nicky

    I found this intriguing tidbit on Scotland Update:

    “The Scottish government has previously been forced to defend the inquiry’s limited remit after campaigners claimed institutions such as the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts could be “let off the hook” by the restricted terms of reference, into examining the extent of historical abuse of children in care, and seeking to identify any systemic failures.”

    So, there’s no way the Bishops are going to defend Professor Lamb or complain that the Government is interfering in the enquiry, as they won’t want the terms of reference being broadened to maybe show more scandals within the Church. I’d like to think I’m wrong, but it could explain their silence on the Professor’s open letter.

    July 1, 2016 at 12:16 am
  • Lily

    I’d give the bishops a chance – this story is only days old. They’ll maybe respond yet. I’d hope, sincerely, that they don’t ignore Government interference in a child abuse enquiry. I can’t imagine they would.

    July 1, 2016 at 12:23 am
    • Margaret Mary


      It shouldn’t take them long to comment – they are quick enough to comment when they want to on stuff in the news.

      July 1, 2016 at 10:31 am
  • Pat McKay

    When I read about this, the same thing occurred to me – this will be just another ‘whitewash’ and waste of public funding.

    The good lady talked a good job before the cameras on her appointment, all the usual guff about ‘no stone being left unturned’, ‘this will reach to the very top’, etc. But as FOOF pointed out above, as soon as it gets near any of the ‘big boys’, the ranks get closed. The Roberto Calvi case is a sharp reminder of what can happen to anyone who grasses up ‘the brotherhood’.

    Surely Ms Goddard isn’t so naive. She must realise this isn’t going anywhere, but at £482k a year I don’t suppose she cares.

    July 1, 2016 at 10:43 am
    • Michaela

      Pat McKay,

      Reading that Telegraph report, you wonder if she is being paid hush money – that’s a huge amount of money to head an enquiry. It does make you wonder.

      I agree that these enquiries are probably a waste of time.

      The real enquiry should be into what it is in our society, that causes this plague of child abuse.

      I don’t believe it was always there, just becoming known now, I just don’t believe that.

      In a day and age when people use contraception to avoid having children, you would not expect the few being born to be abused by their own parents although I know most of these “parents” are boyfriends of the women they live with, i.e. step-parents not natural parents.

      That’s the enquiry I’d like to see and I wonder why the Bishops aren’t calling for that!

      July 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm
      • editor


        That is an excellent point – an enquiry into the reasons for the massive numbers of child abuse cases.

        However, if the Bishops were doing their God-given task – which is to preach the Catholic Faith and Morals, no Government enquiry would be needed at all, because they would be naming this immorality and denouncing all who are participating in it. That means not just denouncing paedophiles, but denouncing the entire sexually permissive culture currently prevailing which leads to the kind of depraved behaviour that we now see normalised around us – from child abuse to procreation-free sexual activity of all kinds, including LGBT immorality. The lot. That’s what the Bishops should be doing – without apology (sorry to contradict you, Papa Francis.)

        July 1, 2016 at 1:32 pm
      • Fidelis

        I do agree about the bishops – if only they were rock solid bishops, we wouldn’t have this sort of evil occurring in the Church.

        I think they’re too far gone now, though, to speak out/preach Catholic faith and morals. They’ve sold out to the PC mentality.

        July 1, 2016 at 3:29 pm
    • Fidelis

      That’s some salary! There has to be more to that appointment than meets the eye, IMHO. That’s very suspicious.

      July 1, 2016 at 3:31 pm
  • Fidelis

    This interference in an independent enquiry is certainly worrying. Professor Lamb’s claims that the government had delayed or prevented the appointment of members of staff and that the inquiry had to wait for prolonged periods before making key decisions, should raise alarm bells. Why would they do that?

    I’m not a believer in the conspiracy theories, usually, but I’m finding myself wondering again about the likes of the Hollie Greig case, if there is any truth in it.

    Without giving a good reason for Professor Lamb’s resignation (why would he falsely accuse the government?) I think that a lot of people will presume the worst about the government and the so-called “conspiracy theories”.

    July 1, 2016 at 3:28 pm
  • Josephine

    Iain Gray the Labour MSP says the Scottish Government’s credibility is hanging by a thread after the resignation of Professor Lamb. It was hanging by a thread anyway, IMHO! LOL!

    July 1, 2016 at 7:05 pm
    • Nicky

      The Scottish Government is making itself a laughing stock under Sturgeon, demanding to be separate from Westminster but under Brussels’ rule. Not that Iain Gray/Labour can lecture anyone. ALL the politicians are making fools of themselves right now. Why can’t they keep their mouths shut until BREXIT takes effect and then see if it works.

      As for the enquiry – I can’t see Professor Lamb’s concerns being addressed, because this matter is not being aired in the Scottish media, after the initial reporting, as far as I can see. Just one more cover-up. Still, when you see what Hillary Clinton is getting away with, and might end up being President of the USA despite everything, this particular child abuse enquiry cover up is very small fry really.

      July 3, 2016 at 8:02 pm
  • editor

    A development today with the resignation of the Chair [woman] of the enquiry. The plot thickens!

    July 4, 2016 at 11:10 pm
  • sixupman

    A slight aside: some years ago there was a successful prosecution relating to a Nazareth House in North East Scotland, one person involved was a lay employee. The lawyers then placed adverts in towns having/had Nazareth Houses located there, touting for complaints – one such was Carlisle. I went to school and was friendly with two lads from Motherwell, temporarily resident there, they expressed no complaint, though life may not have been easy.

    July 6, 2016 at 7:06 pm

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