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