Thursday, December 08, 2016

Labour's Liddell vows to right wrongs of Catholic Church sex abuse scandal

Image result for Baroness Helen LiddellA 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 independent audits. 

According to The Herald, Baroness Liddell said she would ensure a “light is shone into every corner, that wrongs are righted and in a timely manner”. 

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 appeared. 

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.

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