Council faces claims of £2m


Significant progress is being made by Midlothian Council in preparing for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, councillors heard last week.

It officially began last October and is estimated will last for at least four years.

The local authority is bracing itself for a £2 million compensation bill as a result of the investigation.

The aim is to raise awareness of the abuse of children in care and provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering experienced.

An important function of the inquiry is that it is to cover that period which is within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse, up until such date as the chairman may determine up until beyond December 17, 2014 – the date when the inquiry was announced.

This will enable adults of all ages to provide witness to the abuse and suffering they may have endured.

As part of its preparation, Midlothian established a project team to look at the detail of the investigation.

This early preparation has meant the council is well placed to meet the demands of the inquiry.

The council has also committed additional resources to ensure it continues the work both at a national and local level.

Councillor Catherine Johnstone, Council leader , said the authority supported any actions to remove the barrier to seeking justice for survivors of childhood abuse.

She added: “While it is difficult to estimate the value of any claims that could be brought, we are able to gauge some of these costs based on the experience of other inquiries and the projections made by a range of professional groups.

‘‘Recent estimates based on the information provided by directors of finance would suggest Midlothian Council may be liable for £2 million in compensation claims although legal cost could be considerably more. Given the fiscal challenges we are currently experiencing, the financial burden is a significant issue.”