Girl could have been force-fed with cold liver, ad­mits carer

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

A FOR­MER house­fa­ther at a no­to­ri­ous chil­dren’s home yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted it was pos­si­ble a girl had been vi­o­lently force-fed cold liver. The man can­not be named for le­gal rea­sons but gave ev­i­dence to the Scot­tish Child Abuse In­quiry (SCAI) us­ing the pseu­do­nym John.

His tes­ti­mony came as a for­mer house­mother at the home asked the statu­tory probe’s ju­nior coun­sel dur­ing her ev­i­dence why there would be a ‘prob­lem’ send­ing a child to sit in a shed as a form of pun­ish­ment.

The in­quiry is in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims of in­sti­tu­tional abuse in liv­ing mem­ory, and is cur­rently fo­cus­ing on Quar­ri­ers Vil­lage in Bridge of Weir, Ren­frew­shire.

In his ev­i­dence, John said he had worked at Quar­ri­ers from 1964, help­ing to run a ‘cot­tage’ where vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren lived, along with his wife.

This was de­spite hav­ing ‘no ex­pe­ri­ence’ of child­care, which he claimed had not pre­vented the home func­tion­ing well.

The in­quiry has pre­vi­ously heard al­le­ga­tions that a girl in the cot­tage was made to face a wall, that her head was pulled back and that she then had cold liver ‘rammed down her throat’.

John, who was born in 1938 and gave ev­i­dence re­motely by video-link, de­nied that this had hap­pened.

But when asked by the in­quiry’s ju­nior coun­sel Jane Rat­tray if it was pos­si­ble the girl was force-fed when he was not there, he replied: ‘Pos­si­bly.’

John in­sisted: ‘We never forcefed them. If they didn’t want to eat it, they didn’t.’

A so­cial work re­port about John’s cot­tage, read to the hear­ing in Ed­in­burgh, said: ‘The chil­dren in this cot­tage are not re­ceiv­ing the stan­dard of care they re­quire.’

But John said the run­ning of the cot­tage ‘went per­fectly’ and he could not re­call hav­ing prob­lems with the girl who had made the abuse al­le­ga­tions, re­lat­ing to her time in care in the 1960s. The in­quiry heard ev­i­dence of a re­port sug­gest­ing that John had re­ferred the girl to a psy­chol­o­gist be­cause of con­cerns over her ‘mis­de­meanours’.

The psy­chol­o­gist said th­ese con­cerns had been ex­ag­ger­ated and that the girl was in fact ‘fairly nor­mal’.

But John said the woman now mak­ing the al­le­ga­tions about her time in the cot­tage may have been mo­ti­vated by ‘jeal­ousy’ over the way some of the younger chil­dren were treated.

He added: ‘She never com­plained to us, or any mem­ber of staff, about any­thing.’

Mean­while a woman us­ing the name ‘He­len’ at the in­quiry, and who worked at Quar­ri­ers,

‘Rammed down her throat’

de­nied al­le­ga­tions of force­feed­ing and hit­ting a child with a wooden spoon. But, asked if she had ever made a child sit in a shed as pun­ish­ment, she said: ‘What prob­lem would it be if they had to sit in the shed for a lit­tle while?’

He­len, who left Quar­ri­ers in 1970, said she had no rec­ol­lec­tion of records about chil­dren in her care be­ing kept. She said she had a rule against smack­ing but she did not know if this was en­forced by Quar­ri­ers, or only in her own cot­tage.

An­other for­mer house­mother, us­ing the name Vi­o­let, who worked at Quar­ri­ers from 1971, de­nied hit­ting a girl with a hair­brush, say­ing: ‘Not my style.’

The in­quiry, be­fore Lady Smith, con­tin­ues.

In­ves­ti­ga­tion: Quar­ri­ers

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