Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

DE LA SALLE D-DAY

Judge backs victims in £10m abuse fight - By Marion Scott


THE Scottish Executive could be forced to pay £10million compensation to hundreds of children who were abused in Scottish care homes. A judge ruled last week that there is sufficient evidence to show the Government failed to protect victims of the De La Salle List D schools.

In the most significant legal victory for abuse victims, Lady Paton ordered the case to be heard by Scotland's top court. She ruled there was evidence that education bosses knew children were being abused - but did nothing about it. The Court of Session will now decide whether the Scottish Executive, who took over schools responsibility after devolution, will be held jointly liable, along with the De La Salle monks, school managers and governors.

The Sunday Mail can reveal that despite First Minister Jack McConnell's public apology to victims last year, the Executive is fighting to have the case thrown out on a timebar technicality.

At the time, he said: "Those children, adults today, deserve full recognition by us of what happened to them. They were badly wronged. Now that we know what has happened, it falls to us as representatives of the Scottish people to acknowledge it. "

Yesterday, a spokesman for the First Minister and the Scottish Executive would only say: "We are considering the judgment." Lady Paton heard evidence claiming education inspectors were aware of physical attacks against pupils. Legal teams argued monks and teachers admitted to brutal punishments and up to 20 boys at a time absconded to escape the nightmare regime.

They claimed Government inspectors should have acted to remove the victims. Records showed instances of abuse were recorded at St Ninian's De La Salle List D school at Gartmore as long ago as 1963. Lady Paton agreed there was "sufficient record" to entitle victims to a court hearing to examine the role of the then Scottish Education Department. Lady Paton ruled that the education department knew [enough to make them act to protect the children].

Legal victory: Lady Paton made ruling serious concerns about punishments, including one monk who beat boys with a ruler or stick. Colin McEarchran QC told Lady Paton: "The Secretary of State had a duty to take reasonable care to remove boys." The Court of Session hearing next year will also examine who may be held personally liable. A £50,000 claim for damages by Arthur McEwan, 52, of Sauchie, Clackmannanshire, against Brother Benedict was upheld.

Mr McEwan said: "Hundreds like me suffered appalling abuse, and are stilling suffering because no one is taking responsibility." Papers will now be served on Benedict - real name Michael Murphy - at his De La Salle retirement home in Hampshire. Benedict, 70, who was found guilty of torturing and abusing boys at St Ninian's, is appealing and has therefore spent only hours behind bars. Last night, lawyer Cameron Fyfe, who acts on behalf of almost 1000 victims, said: "I'm writing to the First Minister to ask him what the Scottish Executive now intends doing. The Executive's timebar stance goes directly against the spirit of everything Mr McConnell promised victims."

Hundreds came forward in response to the Sunday Mail's award-winning campaign for justice for the "lost boys". Police reported dozens more but the Crown charged only Benedict, teacher Charles McKenna, 83, and nightwatchman Jimmy McKinstry, 70, who were all sentenced to two years in jail Although there was enough evidence to charge seven others, the Crown Office failed to act and alleged victims are pressing ahead with a judicial review.

Two of the seven men still had contact with children.

Alan Draper, chairman of abuse campaign group INCAS said: "It is clear that abuse was covered up by all those involved

SOURCE:> KF

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