Bid to abolish ‘Same Roof’ rule for sexual abuse victims moves ahead

John Swinney

A campaigner’s bid to abolish a rule preventing people sexually abused in their own homes before 1979 from claiming compensation could succeed after he was given legal advice that the Scottish Parliament may have the power to revise the law.

Graham McKinley, 63, whose late wife was sexually abused by her father, failed in a number of legal bids to have the so-called “Same Roof Rules” changed. These provide that no compensation can be paid if the abuse occurred before October 1979 and the abuser and victim lived together as a family.

However, after 25 years of campaigning, Mr McKinlay may finally see the rule overturned.

His petition to the Parliament has been accepted and he has received the backing of Education Secretary John Swinney.

Mr McKinlay, from Inchture in Perthshire, said: “I’d previously understood that the Scottish Parliament was unable to change or amend such a rule. But the recent opinion obtained from counsel suggests that Westminster or Holyrood could indeed change it.

“The petition has now gone live and calls on parliament to do all in its power to remove this absurd and discriminatory rule once and for all.”

The rationale for the rule, established by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, was to prevent the abuser from benefiting from any compensations.

And, even though it was abolished in 1979, victims who were abused before that date cannot make retrospective claims.

Cameron Fyfe, lawyer for Mr McKinlay, said the rules were “nonsensical”.

Mr McKinlay said: “I’d been with Linda every step of the way from when we instigated this push for change in 1992 and its dismissal by various law lords.

“We even tried the Ministry of Defence for negligence because Linda’s father had been in the military.

“This has never been about the money and indeed Linda would have given it away to a relevant charity such as Rape Crisis.

“Then we have the recent flood of high-profile cases involving celebrities.

“Not to decry any act of sexual or indeed any kind of abuse. But being consistently abused from the age of two until 16 by a close family member must surely be more traumatic than a one-off incident from someone outside the family.”

Mr Fyfe said: “Graham must be congratulated for his perseverance in attempting to have this rule amended. I have acted for over 100 clients over the years who have fallen foul of this law.

“I have tried, without success to have this rule overturned by the court. The Scottish Parliament is our last hope and Graham is flying the flag for all the other victims. If he is successful I anticipate instructions from an army of claimants, many of whom have waited years for this nonsensical rule to be overturned.”

A spokesman for Mr Swinney said: “It will be for the committee to consider the petition and which organisations to contact for a response. That may include the Scottish government and as such it would not be appropriate for any ministers to comment further at this stage.”

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