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Child abuse inquiry chairwoman urges witnesses to keep coming forward

UK News | Published:

Lady Smith announced last week that public hearings will be put on hold until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lady Smith

The chairwoman of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has urged anyone who wants to give evidence to come forward, despite a pause in public hearings.

Judge Lady Smith announced last week that proceedings relating to child migration have been postponed until further notice due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

She has now released a video message hoping to reassure those who may wish to take part in the inquiry, saying that preparation and investigative work continues.

Lady Smith said: “I know some will be anxious about whether they can continue their ongoing contact with the inquiry or, indeed, about whether it is possible at the moment to contact us for the first time.

“The answer to both of these is ‘yes’. Whilst we will not be holding face-to-face meetings, our witness support team will continue to operate the Talk to Us phone line and will be working to support applicants and other witnesses throughout this challenging time.

“I have not taken these decisions lightly but I must put the well-being of our applicants, witnesses, staff and our communities at the forefront of my decisions.”

Inquiry staff are now expected to work remotely, with investigation, reflection and preparation for announced case studies ongoing.

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Analysis of evidence taken in relation to the Christian Brothers, Benedictines and Marists case studies is also well under way and findings will be published “as soon as possible”.

Information relating to the timetabling of future hearings is to be provided in due course.

Lady Smith added: “Organisations throughout the UK have had to effect rapid changes to their working practices over the last couple of weeks as the country responds to the coronavirus outbreak and the inquiry is no different.

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“Last week, I announced that the planned hearings relating to child migration had been postponed until further notice. That remains the position.

“Information relating to the timetabling of future hearings in relation to child migration and other case studies will be provided as soon as we are able to do so.”

The inquiry is investigating historic child abuse of children in care across Scotland.

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