Fornethy House Residential School (Survivors Campaign)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 26 May 2022.

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Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

My constituent Marion Reid has come to the Parliament today, along with other survivors of Fornethy House residential school, to highlight their plight. So far, more than 200 brave women have come forward—I suspect that that is the tip of the iceberg—and shared their traumatic, awful experience of physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of staff at Fornethy in the 1960s, where young, vulnerable children were sent, supposedly to help them to recover from illness.

Understandably, those women feel that no one is listening to them. The Deputy First Minister has said that he will meet them. Can I ask him to ensure that that meeting takes place urgently? More importantly, will he ensure that he and the Government listen to those women, that no stone is left unturned to get answers for them and that the perpetrators are brought to justice?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

There are a couple of different issues in that question.

Mr Smyth’s last point was whether every effort would be made to ensure that perpetrators of abuse are brought to justice. Properly, that is a matter for Police Scotland and the Crown. I endorse the points that Mr Smyth has made about the importance of an approach being taken to bring any perpetrator of abuse to justice, but he will understand that that is a process that is independent of the Government.

The substance of the issue around Fornethy is very sensitive, and I have agreed to meet with a group of survivors, I think in response to a parliamentary question from Monica Lennon. I will do that as soon as it is possible to do so.

I applaud the courage of individuals who have come forward, and I know that their concern is that the redress arrangements that the Parliament has put in place do not automatically include individuals who were in Fornethy for a short period of time, because it is primarily focused on individuals who were abused during long-term care placements.

To Mr Smyth and his constituent I say that there is obviously scope for individuals to apply to Redress Scotland for a redress payment, and each individual’s circumstance will be individually addressed and assessed. It is not the case that there is a prohibition on applications from Fornethy survivors; it is that each individual case will be assessed on its merits.

Again, I will happily see the group, and will do that as soon as I possibly can.