Alex Salmond is opposed to an inquiry into child violence in care, NICOLA Sturgeon’s deputy said.
At the Scottish Child Violence Inquiry on Friday, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said there was strong disagreement between ministers about the decision to hold a public inquiry.
He said that after the change of the First Minister from Mr. Salmond to Ms. Sturgeon, an inquiry was approved.
Mike Russell told him on Thursday that “influential figures including Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill and then-Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland were not convinced of the need for an inquiry.” James Peoples, QC, lead counsel for the investigation, said.
Mr. Swinney agreed, saying, “In the summer of 2014, there was a difference of opinion in Cabinet about whether there should be an inquiry.”
“Mr. Peoples said, “It was described as ‘fairly robust’ by Mike Russell.
One school of thinking, he said, is that the time involved, the expense involved, does not justify the need for a public investigation.
“While a different view was taken by Mike Russell, “What do the survivors want? ”
Mr. Swinney answered, “In Cabinet, there was a perfectly respectable debate, but there were two views.”
“One argument was that the investigation would not resolve the concerns and would not yield the outcomes hoped for by the survivors.
Mike Russell had engaged extensively with survivors and his opinion was that as a nation we need to resolve this problem to provide survivors with accountability, to encourage them to record, appreciate and reflect on their experiences, and to keep the state responsible for what happened to them.
“I supported him in that view in Cabinet,” he said.
The investigation was accepted in December, following the change of the first minister.
“There was undoubtedly a difference of opinion in Cabinet.”
Mr. Swinney also said it would not have been a deterrent to the expense of an investigation, adding, “I read a lot about money in the newspapers, and for nine years I was finance minister, so I controlled that money.”
Ironically, the financial difficulties in the post-2007 era were much smaller than in early 2014.
When I came into office in 2007, I was happily shocked to find that an account in the Treasury that had not been invested was £ 1.6 billion.
“When I went through the accounts in 2006 and saw that, I thought it would be quite handy to have that. We still had the block grant and there was 1.6 billion pounds that hadn’t been spent, which I found quite surprising.”
“Even though you weren’t approached about finding money for an investigation, was there money there?”Was there money there, even though you weren’t approached about finding money for an investigation?
At that point, Mr. Swinney said, “There was a hidden money tree at that point. So the idea that money was an issue – I had the ability to fund the financial priorities that my colleagues thought were important.”
The new section of the Scottish Child Violence Investigation, which will be heard before Judge Lady Smith, investigates the reasons why ministers dismissed proposals for a public inquiry between August 2002 and December 2014.
In October 2015, the new inquiry was opened.
Abuse to children who are cared for in Scotland or whose treatment has been arranged in Scotland is being investigated.
The investigation remains.