Delays in school child abuse civil cases criticised

John Findlay
John Findlay secured a payout two years ago [BBC]

A campaigner has criticised delays in settling civil cases related to pupils abused at King Charles' former school.

John Findlay, a former pupil of Gordonstoun in Moray and who was abused at its associated junior school, Aberlour House, said some people had already waited six years for a resolution.

Last month, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) said child abuse had been allowed to flourish unchecked for decades at Gordonstoun.

The school has apologised to anyone who was abused while in its care.

Mr Findlay, who was 12 when he was sexually assaulted by a teacher in 1990, secured a six-figure payout in 2022.

He said the compensation had helped to cover the cost of his care for clinically severe post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Mr Findlay said he knew of two other people seeking payouts, adding that compensation could be vital to them getting help for mental health issues.

Their cases relate to former Gordonstoun teacher Andrew Keir.

Keir was jailed for a year in 2018 for lewd acts involving pupils at swimming sessions.

Mr Findlay said: "When those things are so deep-rooted in your psyche it takes very specialist care and specialist therapy."

He added: "I had hoped my case would make other people have quicker access to help.

"It's horrendous for people who have been abused that their suffering is prolonged.

"My friends have been suffering for six years and that is evil in my mind."

'We are sorry'

Last month, SCAI chairwoman Lady Smith published her findings into residential care for children at Gordonstoun and Aberlour House, near Elgin.

She concluded that children who boarded at both establishments were exposed to risks of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse - and that for many those risks materialised.

Lady Smith said: "I have no difficulty in finding that children were abused at Gordonstoun and Aberlour in a variety of ways over a long period of time."

Gordonstoun said the SCAI report was upsetting, adding that it was shocking that abuse experienced in the past had endured for 30 to 40 years, and for some even 50 years.

The school said the report had also recognised its efforts to assist former pupils who had suffered abuse.

Gordonstoun was established in the 1930s [PA Media]

Principal Lisa Kerr said: “We are sorry that John suffered abuse during his time at Aberlour House in 1990 and we have apologised to him in person.

“We respect and thank those, like John, who have spoken up about their experiences and those who gave evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry."

She added: “We have actively encouraged those affected by abuse, who feel they will benefit from financial redress, to seek this.

"Those claims are then dealt with by the insurers of Gordonstoun and Aberlour House.

"We will continue to signpost legal advice and provide support information for those affected by historic abuse."

Ms Kerr said Gordonstoun had written and spoken to the insurers, urging them to deal with cases in a timely and compassionate way.

She said: “We are acutely conscious that delays add to the distress of survivors and will continue to press for these claims to be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Gordonstoun was founded in 1934 by a German Jewish educationist, Kurt Hahn, after he fled the Nazis. His aim was to create well-rounded citizens, with a focus on life skills and service as much as academic achievement.

Earlier this year, King Charles become patron of the Gordonstoun Association, a role previously held by his father Prince Philip, who also attended the school.

It marked the King's first official link with the institution, which he attended from 1962 to 1967.

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