Abuse survivors get £1m payout from Church of Scotland

30 April 2019, 05:42

Church of Scotland 1m payout

Three siblings who were sexually abused by a care home worker have secured £1 million in damages from the Church of Scotland.

The sister and her two brothers were targeted by paedophile Ian Samson at Lord and Lady Polwarth Children's House in Edinburgh.

Samson, then aged 72, was jailed for 14 years in 2013 at the High Court in Glasgow after he was convicted of 22 offences involving the sexual abuse and rape of 12 children over a period of many years.

After raising a legal action last year with Digby Brown Solicitors, the woman secured £500,000 from the Kirk while her two brothers each received £250,000, said to be the most compensation recovered from a religious body in Scotland.

The Church of Scotland said it hopes the settlement finally brings a sense of justice to the individuals affected and provides "some small redress for the trauma which they experienced while in our care".

Some children at the home hid in cupboards and slept in dog baskets to escape abuse.

In a statement the siblings, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: "Samson was evil and robbed us of our childhood and our future.

"Our case has never been about the money - raising a civil action in the courts was the only way we could get any sort of acknowledgement from the Church of Scotland.

"It's a shame that an organisation which promotes 'goodness and morals' can't do the right thing themselves and hold their hands up and apologise rather than force victims to go endure further legal proceedings.

"We nearly gave up so many times in getting the Kirk to accept responsibility so we're delighted this is now over and have the justice and closure we need to get on with life as best we can.

"To anyone else affected by abuse - be strong and step forward. You can get closure and together we can all make a difference."

Samson's offences spanned 30 years from the 1970s to the 1990s and he took jobs in places such as a boys' hostel, a children's home and an ice cream van.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: "The abuses perpetrated by Ian Samson at Lord and Lady Polwarth Home in the 1970s are matters which have been examined by the criminal courts and by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and for which we have expressed our deep and sincere regret.

"We became aware of the full facts in 2013 at which point we offered our full support to the victims.

"While Samson's abuse of children was wider than his activity in Lord and Lady Polwarth Home, it felt important to us that there was full acknowledgement of the harm which did occur in our care at the time, and the longer term consequences for three siblings involved."

He added: "The safety of children is of paramount importance to us, we have carried out a full independent review of the circumstances occurring in the 1970s so that we could learn any lessons for our safeguarding practices today.

"We did offer sight of that review to the family affected before it went for publication, through Police Scotland, however, we are not aware of whether they have seen it.

"Whilst this settlement can never undo what has been done, we hope that it finally brings a sense of justice to the individuals affected and provides some small redress for the trauma which they experienced while in our care."