Child abuse inquiry to hear evidence from behind bars

Two men will give evidence from behind bars to an inquiry into abuse at a children’s home run by a religious order.

The fourth phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI), which opened on Tuesday, will focus particularly on St Ninian’s, a residential school in Falkland, Fife that was run by the Christian Brothers.

The inquiry heard that two men convicted of abusing children at the school will give evidence via video link from prison.

John Farrell, then 73, and Paul Kelly, then 64, were sentenced to five and 10 years respectively in August 2016 for assaulting vulnerable pupils at St Ninian’s in the late 1970s and 80s.

Farrell, from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, was jailed for three counts of indecent assault and Kelly, from Plymouth, Devon, was sentenced to 10 years for four counts of indecent assault and two assault charges.

The men were members of the Catholic religious order the Congregation of Christian Brothers, which ran the school.

Colin MacAulay, senior counsel for the inquiry, which is taking place in Edinburgh, said: “They are both in custody, so it’s the intention to lead their evidence by video link from the prisons where they are being held.”

St Ninian’s opened in January 1951 and closed in July 1983.

The SCAI heard opening statements from parties with an interest in the inquiry,

Alastair Duncan, representing the Christian Brothers, said: “The congregation has already acknowledged that children were abused at St Ninian’s and has apologised unreservedly.”

He said that a representative of the order will be present throughout this phase of the inquiry to “acknowledge that what former residents have to say is of the utmost importance”.

David Anderson, representing the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said the Christian Brothers are independent of individual dioceses but that the Catholic community was horrified by what had happened.

He said: “Those instructing me advise that members of Catholic parishes across Scotland have been horrified by the evidence heard in previous phases and the Bishops’ Conference shares theses feelings of horror and dismay.

“The Bishops’ Conference wishes to confront the horrors of the past and ensure that churches are safe places for all.”

Martin Richardson, representing the Lord Advocate, said the Crown wished to support the inquiry’s work and contribute to that work and to the rigorous prosecution of crime.

The Scottish Government has introduced a system of redress for survivors of abuse, offering £10,000 to those who meet the criteria.

So far, 39 payments have been made since the scheme opened on April 25 and 54 further applications have been received.

Police Scotland said they remain committed to child protection across Scotland while In Care Abuse Survivors (INCAS) said it was committed to working with the inquiry and said its members are listening keenly.

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