School abuse accusers protest over 'exclusion' from compensation

Former pupils of Fornethy House Residential School say they were physically and sexually abused.

Fornethy House: Alleged school abuse survivors protest outside Holyrood over compensation exclusion STV News

Women who say they were physically and sexually abused at a former residential school have taken their fight for justice to Holyrood.

Fornethy House Residential School Survivors demonstrated outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

The women, who attended the Angus school in the 60s and 70s, claim they have been excluded from a new Scottish Government fund for people who have been abused.

Abuse claims:  Fornethy House Residential School.SNS Group

“I was beaten black and blue,” said Lesley Ewing, who attended the school when she was seven-years-old.

“The memories keep coming back. It was just so traumatic, but for some strange reason, the Redress scheme only applies to survivors of long-term care.

 Lesley Ewing attended the school when she was seven-years-old.STV News

“Anybody in short-term care like us – six to eight weeks – for some reason we don’t count, even though the trauma we suffered is lifelong trauma.”

The Scottish Government rolled out Redress for Survivors last December. It is a scheme designed to provide an alternative to civil court action, paying out up to £100,000 to those abused in residential care.

However, women who attended Fornethy House claim they cannot access the fund. This includes the support group’s founder, Marion Reid, who stayed at the school in the 1960s.

 Marion Reid stayed at the school in the 1960s.STV News

“I basically was forced to eat my own vomit,” she told STV News. “It was an egg, I didn’t like the egg and I got battered because I wouldn’t eat it.

“That is straight across the board, everybody was forced fed.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government takes the abuse of children in all circumstances very seriously and acknowledges that the abuse of children in all settings is wrong and harmful.

“This should never have happened, regardless of where it occurred.

“The exclusion of those abused in temporary respite care is in keeping with the core purpose of the redress scheme, which is primarily for those vulnerable children who were in long-term residential care, often isolated with limited or no contact with their families.

“Ultimately it will be up to Redress Scotland to decide whether or not an applicant is eligible. They will take into account all of the facts and circumstances in reaching a decision.”

Glasgow City Council, which ran the facility before it closed in the 1990s, has received 159 claims of abuse linked to the facility.

To this date, no one has been arrested or charged, however the first civil court case could take place later this year.

Police Scotland said an “investigation remains ongoing”.

Detective inspector Mark Lamont said: “In complex and challenging investigations such as this we work very closely with the procurator fiscal service and we keep them regularly updated as enquiries progress.

“All reports of child abuse will be fully investigated and we are committed to bring perpetrators to justice.

“I would encourage anybody who has been the victim of abuse, either recently or in the past, to please come forward and report the matter to us.”

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