Council proposes child abuse payment

By Nick Appleyard

September 30, 2009 /

Dumfries and Galloway Council is proposing to pay £20,000 to every victim of child abuse at one of its residential care homes in the 1970s and 80s.

A report to council has recommended cabinet members agree to pay each of the 20 adult survivors who suffered at the hands of Peter Harley, who ran the local authority’s Merkland children’s home.

John Alexander, Dumfries and Galloway’s director of social work, has also suggested that a public apology be made through council leader Ivor Hyslop.

The abuse occurred at the home in Moffat between 1977 and 1982 and Mr Harley was eventually jailed for 15 years in 1996 at the High Court in Glasgow.

‘The lives of the adult survivors have been irreparably damaged as a result and the council’s reputation has been tarnished,’ the report said.

Some of the victims obtained compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in relation to the abuse suffered but others were unsuccessful in their applications. The individuals also sought to sue the council but their cases were dismissed in 2003.

‘Whilst the cases were being litigated, the council was not able to consider making any financial payment to those affected. It is now considered appropriate that the council agree to make ex gratia payments to the adult survivors,’ the report added.


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