Public inquiry into child abuse set to be costliest in Scottish history

Susan O’Brien QC

The public inquiry into child abuse will be the costliest in Scottish history.

Already, Scotland’s Child Abuse Inquiry (CAI) has cost over £600,000 and is predicted to exceed previous hearings by millions.

Chairwoman Susan O’Brien QC launched the first official call for evidence this week, saying: “Be clear from the outset that this is a complex inquiry and it will be expensive.”

The investigation into C.difficile infections cost £10.7 million while the Penrose inquiry into contaminated blood cost over £12m.

A source close the CAI has said the costs of the four-year hearing will be far greater than previous ones.

Ms O’Brien has looked to Australia where a similar inquiry has cost £267m so far.

She said it was a “world leader in the sad science of getting evidence from survivors of abuse”.

The inquiry will look at physical and sexual abuse in addition to emotional distress suffered by people in foster and residential care. But some survivor groups have taken issue with the fact it will only deal with those abused in care.

Ms O’Brien explained the inquiry will begin with private hearings before moving on to public ones. Names of alleged victims and abusers will be redacted initially and the team will travel around the UK, speaking to people in “small, quiet and comfortable” hotel rooms.

Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson called for a thorough inquiry.

He said: “This is a once-in-a-million inquiry and if it is going to be the biggest we have ever had we should make a proper job of it.

“Many survivors are angry and distressed by the way in which the government have gone about the process. The remit is overly restrictive and they don’t seem to want all the survivors to come forward and give evidence.”

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