Scottish Daily Mail
Salmond ‘didn’t want to hold sex abuse inquiry’
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.