A VETERAN Labour fixer and senior member of Tony Blair’s cabinet has been appointed to enforce the Catholic Church’s response to historical child sex abuse concerns.
Baroness Helen Liddell, a former secretary of state for Scotland, will
oversee efforts by the Church to deal with abuse survivors and put in
place safeguards to prevent repeats of the scandals that have plagued it
for several years.
The ruling body of the Catholic Church in Scotland, the Bishops’
Conference, formally announced Baroness Liddell as the first
chairwoman of the Independent Review Group last Monday.
It will function separately
from the Church, reviewing new safeguarding standards and carrying out
According to The Herald, Baroness Liddell said she would ensure a
“light is shone into every corner, that wrongs are righted and in a
The appointment has been unveiled weeks after Dr Andrew McLellan, a
former Kirk Moderator and chairman of the commission that investigated
Catholic abuse, publicly criticised Scots bishops for appearing to
ignore the findings of his report over a year after its publication.
The Church has insisted advanced talks about the role with Baroness
Liddell, a former economy and transport minister during Mr Blair’s first
administration and who was also British High Commissioner to Australia
between 2005 and 2009, had all but concluded by the time the criticisms
Writing in The Herald, Baroness Liddell said she was “horrified,
humiliated and angry the actions of a few in the Church I support have
caused acute pain and suffering to innocent people”.
She said the review group, which she will appoint, will include
“safeguarding professionals, specialists in the evaluation of
organisations, a representative of Police Scotland and a canon lawyer”.
“This group will be a transparent and fearless means of ensuring the
McLellan Commission recommendations are implemented in full. We owe it
to the survivors to ensure their suffering is never repeated.”
“Abuse has brought shame on the Church and like tens of thousands of
Catholics I want to prove to the survivors that we care. I will do my
very best, with the help of a fearless and committed Review Group, to
make sure this never happens again.
“We must ensure the McLellan Report is implemented in full. Judge us by our actions.”
Published in August 2015, the McLellan Commission report recommended
that “support for survivors of abuse must be an absolute priority for
the Catholic Church in Scotland in the field of safeguarding” and that
the policy and practice manual, awareness and safety in our Catholic
Communities, should be “completely revised or rewritten”.
It also claimed that justice had to be seen to be done,for those who
had been abused, with “external scrutiny and independence in the
safeguarding policies and practices of the Church” in place.