Scottish Daily Mail

Sal­mond ‘didn’t want to hold sex abuse in­quiry’

- By Emma O’Neill Crime · Politics · Alex Salmond · Scottish Government · John Swinney · Kenny MacAskill

FORMER First Min­is­ter Alex Sal­mond and some other top Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment fig­ures op­posed hold­ing an in­quiry into the abuse of chil­dren in care, it was claimed yes­ter­day.

Speak­ing at the Scot­tish Child Abuse In­quiry, Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney said the probe was au­tho­rised ‘af­ter the change of First Min­is­ter had taken place’.

James Peo­ples, QC, se­nior coun­sel to the in­quiry, said Con­sti­tu­tion Sec­re­tary Mike Rus­sell told him on Thurs­day that ‘in­flu­en­tial fig­ures, in­clud­ing Mr Sal­mond, Kenny Ma­cAskill and then-Lord Ad­vo­cate Frank Mul­hol­land were not per­suaded’ of the need for an in­quiry.

Mr Swin­ney agreed, say­ing: ‘There was a dif­fer­ence of views in Cab­i­net in the sum­mer of 2014 if there should be an in­quiry.’

Mr Peo­ples said: ‘Mike Rus­sell de­scribed it as “quite ro­bust”.

‘He said one school of thought was that the time taken, the cost in­volved, didn’t sup­port the need f or a pub­lic i nquiry.

Whereas Mike Rus­sell was putting for­ward an­other view of what do sur­vivors want?’

Mr Swin­ney re­sponded: ‘There was a per­fectly re­spectable de­bate among Cab­i­net but there were two opinions.

‘One ar­gu­ment was that the in­quiry would not ad­dress the is­sues and would not de­liver the out­comes sur­vivors hoped for.

‘Mike Rus­sell had en­gaged heav­ily with sur­vivors and his view was we had to con­front this is­sue as a coun­try, to do jus­tice for sur­vivors to en­able them to have their ex­pe­ri­ences doc­u­mented, un­der­stood a nd re­flected on, and for the state to accept re­spon­si­bil­ity for what hap­pened to them.

‘I sup­ported him in that view in Cab­i­net. The in­quiry was au­tho­rised in De­cem­ber af­ter the change of First Min­is­ter.’

Mr Swin­ney also said the cost of an in­quiry would not have been a de­ter­rent, say­ing: ‘I’ve seen a lot of traf­fic about money in the pa­pers and I was fi­nance min­is­ter for nine years, so I con­trolled that money.

‘Iron­i­cally, in the pe­riod af­ter 2007, the fi­nan­cial is­sues were a lot less than in early 2014.

‘When I came to of­fice in 2007, I was pleas­antly sur­prised there was £ 1.6bil­lion i n an ac­count in the trea­sury that hadn’t been spent.’

He added: ‘There was a hid­den money tree at that point. So the idea that money was an is­sue – I had the abil­ity to fund the fi­nan­cial pri­or­i­ties my col­leagues found to be im­por­tant.’

The lat­est phase of the Scot­tish Child Abuse In­quiry, heard be­fore judge Lady Smith, is ex­plor­ing rea­sons why calls be­tween Au­gust 2002 and De­cem­ber 2014 for a pub­lic in­quiry to be held were re­sisted by min­is­ters.

The cur­rent in­quiry was set up in Oc­to­ber 2015.

The in­quiry con­tin­ues.

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