School facing closure after police search (01.07.92)

Daily Mail, 1st July 1992


  1. Troyhand said:
    Sexuality, Learning Difficulties and Doing What’s Right
    By Gavin Fairbairn, Denis Rowley, Maggie Bowen

    [Page 60]

    The idea that professional carers might fail to take action in relation to a colleague who was sexually abusing clients is probably even more shocking than that they should fail to take action about abuse perpetrated by other clients. Some people may be inclined to believe that the possibility that sexual abuse perpetrated by a member of staff might go unsuspected, unnoticed or unreported by his colleagues is so far fetched that we should not even be discussing it. But this does happen. Anyone who doubts that professionals caring for vulnerable people might fail to take notice of signs that a colleague might be guilty of sexual impropriety need go no further than the history of Peter Righton, which was featured in the BBC documentary series ‘Inside Story’ (BBC, 1994). Righton had held many important positions relating to the care of children. His reputation in child care had not been diminished by the fact that he contributed a chapter to an academic text about paedophilia (Righton, 1981) in which he openly raised the possibility that it might not be harmful for children to have sex with adults. For example, following a statement of strong disapproval of adults who rape, pester or ‘offer sexual violence’ to children, he writes, “what I contest is the assumption that children need protection from (in the sense of denial of) any kind of sexual experience with an adult, however gentle or even educative.’ (p39)

    ‘Inside Story’ investigated evidence that in spite of his professional reputation and the positions of trust he had held in relation to children Righton had led a double life. He had been active in the Paedophile Information Exchange and associated openly with many people known to have been implicated in the sexual misuse and/or abuse of children. For two of these Righton wrote references in connection with applications for school teaching positions in Britain, in spite of the fact that one had a conviction for ‘lewd, indecent and libidinous behavior’ and the other several convictions for ‘indecent assault’.

    Righton’s professional position and reputation seem to have helped him to avoid others becoming aware of his sexual interest in young boys, or perhaps to avoid the possibility that others would allow themselves to become aware of it. No-one ho came in contact with him seems to have suspected, or allowed themselves to suspect, his true nature, though with hindsight some seem to recognise that there were signs that should have alerted them to the truth. For example, looking back during the ‘Inside Story’ documentary, Barbara Kahan, Director of the National Children’s Bureau, feels that perhaps she ‘should have made the connections earlier’, and admits that Righton ‘conned a wide range of people in the social work world.’ (BBC, 1994). It is possible that those who work within services for people with learning difficulties are less gullible and have more insight than Righton’s colleagues but this seems improbable to us.

  2. Troyhand said:
    Quest for Justice: Towards Homosexual Emancipation [2011]
    By Antony Grey

    [Page 173]

    The York Conference produced two major decisions. The first was that a constitution should be drafted for a national federative body of homophile groups which would co-ordinate decision-making and representation of homophile interests on other national bodies such as the National Council of Social Service. This was duly done, and NFHO – the National Federation of Homophile Organisations – came into being in 1971, with the objects of providing a forum for the discussion of the problems of homophile men and women in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, acting as a central clearing house for information, co-operating and liaising with others in the initiation and provision of social meeting places, and educating the public with a view to improving the legal and social status of homophiles.

    The second decision was to convene a working party to produce a report on the particular problems involved and skils required in counselling homosexuals. The resulting document, Counselling homosexuals: a study of personal needs and public attitudes, compiled by Peter Righton and published by the NCSS Bedford Square Press in 1973, still merits attention. In his introduction, Raymond Clarke referred to the growing openness of society, with less stigma than formerly attaching to certain areas of social need, but commented that ‘when one member of the conference referred to the “hell of alienation felt by many homosexuals” there was a general agreement that this was all too common’. The aim of the report, he added, was not to promote a separately structured specialisation in homosexual counselling, but rather to make a claim upon the skills and time of all who provided counselling services in the hope that they would respond to the invitation to learn about the particular stresses in personal and community relationships that accompanied homosexuality. This invitation was echoed by the report, which saw a need for consultation and co-operation at a national level between the many interests – the professions, government departments, local authorities, voluntary bodies – whose practical support was needed in developing the required services.

    By the time the York Conference had borne these substantial fruits, I had left the Albany Trust. I had been intensively involved in the running of the HLRS and the Trust for more than twelve years, and had sat in the ‘hot seat’ for eight. I was physically and mentally jaded, emotionally drained by the burdens imposed by the work and by staffing problems at the office. So, soon after the York meeting, I told the Trustees of my decision to go at the end of September 1970. They appointed a new Director, Michael De-la-Noy, who had previously worked as a journalist for the Trust’s current chairman, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, before becoming press secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Ramsey. Shortly before becoming Director of the Albany Trust De-la-Roy had been precipitately sacked from Church House for having written, in a personal capacity, two magazine articles on sexual topics, and was consequently feeling quite militant about the subject. He was to find that he needed all the militancy he could muster when he took over my desk at 32 Shaftesbury Avenue.

  3. Troyhand said:
    The Glasgow Herald – Mar 22, 1973
    Charges against boys’ home staff dropped

    No criminal proceedings are to be taken after an investigation of complaints about the conduct of staff at Larchgrove Assessment Centre for delinquent boys, Glasgow.

    A statement issued yesterday by Mr Stanley Bowen, Crown agent, with the authority of Mr Norman Wylie, QC, Lord Advocate, said the the required standard of evidence was not available to justify criminal proceddings.

    After an inquiry by Mr Ronald A. Bennett, QC, Sheriff of Berwickshire, and Mr Peter Righton, a child care specialist, a report was issued to Glasgow Corporation social work and health committee stating that certain allegations of violence and neglect had been found proved.

    The Crown Office statement indicated, however, that this proof was reached “on a balance of probabilities,” which is the standard of proof applicable in a civil court.

    Further inquiry was made by the police and the procurator-fiscal, on the instructions of the Lord Advocate, as to whether the evidence reached the standard required in criminal cases – proof “beyond reasonable doubt.”

    Varying degrees
    This inquiry did not disclose that the required standard of evidence was available, and accordingly the evidence did not justify criminal proceedings.

    Of the 30 allegations of ill-treatment of boys at Larchgrove investigated by the independent inquiry, 13 were held to have been proved according to standards applicable in a civil court.

    Mr Bennett and Mr Righton, a senior official of the National Children’s Bureau, held proved nine incidents of violence shown by staff towards boys of varying severity and involving seven members of staff; two incidents involving neglect; and two instances of unsympathetic handling.

    They said that 17 of the allegations had failed, largely for lack of corroboration.

    After publication of the report submitted to the social work committee Mr Robert Murdoch, superintendent at Larchgrove, and Mr John McMahon, deputy superintendent, were suspended from duty on full pay by the social work committee.

    Mr Francis Carrigan, a supervisor at the centre who made public the allegations and was praised by the inquiry for his courage in doing so, has been excused duty on full pay since he made the allegations in January.

    Cleared air
    Mr Robert Bryson, town clerk depute, said yesterday that the decision by the Crown Office had cleared the air. The special sub-committee appointed by the social work committee to deal with the inquiry report could now consider whether there should be any disciplinary action. They will meet soon, probably next week.

    After the report was published seven members of the Larchgrove staff were charged with assaulting boys.

    A copy of the report went to Mr Henry Herron, procurator-fiscal at Glasgow, who said Crown counsel had instructed him to tell the town clerk that newspapers should be advised to give no publicity to the section dealing with specific allegations of ill-treatment until the question of criminal proceedings had been disposed of.

    [Continued on Page 18]

  4. Troyhand said:,5265007
    [continued – Page 18]

    Dealing with general allegations, Mr Bennett and Mr Righton said in their report: “There is ample evidence to support a clear conclusion that shouting, pushing, cuffing, and shaking frequently occurred, particularly at line-ups and when minor offences were committed. We find also that there was sporatic punching and kicking.

    “Mr Murdoch was aware of pushing and of complaints of kicking and punching. He has told the staff they were a ‘bit rough’ and told them to use the minimum force in subduing unruly boys and breaking up fights. Many of the staff plainly ignored this instruction.”

    Among the allegations Mr Bennett and Mr Righton held proved were:

    A boy who ahd been put in a cell for attempting to abscond received many more than the permitted maximum six strokes on the buttocks. The centre’s log book said he had received six strokes for being disorderly and insolent; the boy said he was hit about 14 times and that his buttocks were black and blue the following day.

    A slightly spastic boy was distressed because he thought his mother, living in England, did not know where he was and he was refused permission to telephone her. His request for hospital treatment for his spastic foot was refused. It was held that the boy was insensitively and unsympathetically handled.

    A boy was admitted to the centre with burns on his left shoulder. This was left untreated for two days and was considered to be evidence of neglect.

    The inquiry found proved an allegation that a boy’s arm was deliberately twisted by a staff member and injured, and that he was later punched.

    Wet sheets

    The inquiry also found: “That when bedwetting occurred (which was frequent) boys were not always permitted to change their sheets and pyjamas until the morning.”

    Two members of the staff had in particular, following that practice and one of them would not, in addition, allow the boys to go to the lavatory during the night.

    One staff member genuinely beleived the correct procedure was that boys should stay in wet beds because they were warm, until the morning, and that this saved laundry bills if a bed would be wet again during the night.

    The inquiry found that one member of staff, who would not allow boys to go to the lavatory during the night, “has been in the habit of shutting himself in the night shift sitting room by jamming the door with a shovel in order to remain undisturbed.

    “He would have us believe that he jammed the door only for fear of attacks by violent boys. Having met him, we cannot accept that as an explanation.

    New regulations

    “He also admitted that he kept the toilet door locked at night ‘in case boys escape through the window’. We find the allegations proved.”

    Referring to an allegation of breaches of the Remand Home (Scotland) Rules, 1964, the report says that these regulations ceased to have effect when the Social Work (Scotland) Act, 1968, came into operation in April, 1971.

    In a circular to the corporation in March, 1971, the Social Work Services said former remand homes would in due course be covered by new regulation.

    The report added: “We are at a loss to understand why two years have been allowed to elapse and no new regulations have been made to replace those which have expired.

    “Nor has any administrative direction been given by the Secretary of State for Scotland on the lines that social work establishments should in the meantime observe the old regulations.

    “In Glasgow, the director of social work has informed us that by tacit understanding, between him and Mr Murdoch the old regulations would continue to be applied. We therefore take the view that any failure to observe these regulations is not technically a ‘breach’ of them but is rather a failure to comply with implicit instructions.”

    The two suspended officials at Larchgrove said last night that they were relieved that criminal charges against them were being dropped.

    Mr Murdoch, the 55-year-old superintendent, said: “My conscience was clear, but the past two weeks have been a considerable strain.”

    Both Mr Murdoch and his deputy, Mr John McMahon, aged 54, had been charged with five other members of the staff, in connection with the allegations.


    Mr Murdoch said: “I do not accept that there was any cruelty or deliberate ill-treatment. Corporal punishment was used only when necessary.

    “It is true that from time to time I advised the staff to be careful how they handled the boys. But when, for instance, boys are fighting and have to be separated, it is understandable that a man may use a little extra force.”

    Mr Carrigan said that the possibility of criminal proceedings against individuals had not concerned him. He made the complaints only in the boys’ interests.

    Mr Carrigan, aged 47, added that he was awaiting word as to where and when he could resume work.

  5. Troyhand said:,1007154
    Evening Times – Mar 7, 1973
    Shock after report

    Mr. Robert Murdoch, superintendent of Larchgrove Assessment Centre, Glasgow, and his deputy, Mr John McMahon, have been suspended on full pay.

    Glasgow Corporation’s social work and health committee took this step today after considering a report of an inquiry into the Springboig centre.

    The committee have also appointed a special subcommittee to consider the report of the inquiry carried out by Mr Ronald Bennett, Q.C., and Mr Peter Righton, who were appointed in January.

    This sub-committee will hear what members of the staff at Larchgrove have to say on their behalf, or through their solicitors or other representatives, and will make its recommendations to a future meeting of the social work and health committee.

    This was announced at a press conference in the City Chambers today by Councillor Mrs Nan Patrick, Glasgow’s social work and health convener, after the committee debated the report for almost two hours.

    The investigation was prompted by allegations by Mr Francis Carrigan, a supervisor at the centre.

    Newspapers have been advised by the procurator-fiscal not to publish a section of the report giving details of allegations of cruelty.

    In a lengthy statement today, Mrs Patrick said the committee recognised the general validity of the criticisms made, and were resolved that as far as possible these matters should be put right.

    “It is our firm intention to set our house in order, both as regards Larchgrove, and as regards headquarters support and, in consultation with the establishments committee and others concerned, we will see that this is done,” she said.

    Mr Murdoch’s temporary replacement at the school is an official of Loaningdale School, Mr William Jardine.

    “Mr Jardine has been at Loaningdale for only two years, but he is a very experienced man and is very highly thought of in many circles,” said Councillor Patrick.

    The position of Mr Carrigan has yet to be decided by the committee.

    Mr James Johnston, director of social work, said today – “Quite obviously he has been justified in some measure by the results of the investigation, there can be no question about that.

    “It is also a fact, however, that the ways which Mr Carrigan could have used to bring his allegations to the notice of the committee were not used, and the implications here are something which we have to consider.”

    Councillor Mrs Patrick said there was no question of Mr Carrigan being victimized, and Mr Johnston denied that Mr Carrigan had tried for a year to make his allegations through normal channels.

    At the press conference Mr Robert Bryson, depute town clerk, pointed out that the suspension of Mr Murdoch and Mr McMahon was not necessarily connected with the allegations in the first part of the report.

    They have responsibilities fpr the supervision of the home, and it is in that respect that the committee feel it necessary that they should be suspended on full pay.

    “There is not any punitive atmosphere attached to it at this stage,” he said.

    It was pointed out by Mr Johnston that there was a national shortage of trained social work staff at all times, and this, of course, contributed to the corporation’s ability to staff Larchgrove.

    Report hits at corporation

    Wide-ranging administrative changes are suggested for Larchgrove assessment centre, Glasgow, in a report published today.

    The recommendations are the result of a special inquiry into allegations of cruelty at the centre in Springboig. Newspapers have been advised by the procurator-fiscal not to publish a section of the report giving details of the allegations as the Crown Office have not completed their findings on whether or not prosecution or prosecutions might arise from the report.

    The inquiry, which took 18 days and 53 interviews to complete, also had a brief to examine the general day-to-day operation of the centre.

    Today the report was considered at a special meeting of Glasgow Corporation’s Social Work and Health Committee.

    It was the committee who appointed Mr Ronald Bennett, Q.C., and Mr Peter Righton to carry out the inquiry to January.

    The two-man team, as well as offering 14 separate suggestions for improvements at Larchgrove, come down heavily on the corporation.

    They say a major part of what they found unsatisfactory stems from an “inadequate appreciation of an assessment service, and a consequent failure to provide appropriate services and support.”

    The main task of Larchgrove is to prepare and submit assessments on boys committed to it by Children’s Panels and Sheriff Courts. This, says the report, is the objective agreed by the director of social work and the centre superintendent.

    But from their observations, the inquiry team found that the main tasks in reality were custodial control of the boys’ behavior within the unit, and prevention of the boys absconding.

    During their study of the centre they watched the daily routine of the boys. The total effect – in practice if not intention – is “drab, repressive, and undermining of individual dignity.”

    They speak of “impersonal and distant” staff-boy relationships. But the report is at pains to stress that problems like this are the fault of the system rather than of any particular individuals, staff or boys.

    Among the recommendations made by the inquiry members were that the plans to change Larchgrove from a block organisation to a three-unit system should be implemented with the utmost possible speed.

    When there is a unit to contain violent and disturbed boys, the rest of Larchgrove should become an open establishment.

    There should be an increase in the number of staff, and the staff-boy ratio should be increased to not less than 1-2.

    At least four qualified teachers should be appointed as soon as possible to take over classroom and other educational activities.

    The daily routine should be reorganised, and in the longer term a higher proportion of women should be appointed to the professional staff than is now envisaged.

  6. Troyhand said:
    The Glasgow Herald – Mar 8, 1973
    Boys’ centre supervisors suspended
    By Claude Thomson, Our Municipal Correspondent.

    The superintendent and depute superintendent of Larchgrove Assessment Centre, Glasgow, were suspended from duty yesterday by the social work committee of Glasgow Corporation after a report by an independent inquiry into allegations of ill treatment of boys at the centre.

    Councillor Nan Patrick, committee convener, said that the suspension of Mr Robert Murdoch, superintendent since 1961, and Mr John McMahon, depute superintendent since 1969, had been ordered in the interests of the staff as well as the boys.

    She said that the report on the investigation carried out for the corporation by Mr Ronald Bennett, Q.C., and Mr Peter Righton contained trenchant criticisms of the situation which had been allowed to develop at Larchgrove and in the social work department.

    The report praises Mr Francis Carrigan, a supervisor at the centre, for his “public-spirited and courageous” action in bringing to public attention allegations – some of them referring to pushing, slapping, or punching of boys by staff – which led to the inquiry.

    Mr Carrigan has been excused from duty at the centre on full pay since he made the allegations in January.


    Mr James Johnston, director of social work, said: “There is no rush to reach a decision about Mr Carrigan’s future. Obviously he has been justified in some measure by the results of the investigation.

    “It is also a fact that the ways Mr Carrigan could have used to bring his allegations to the notice of the committee were not used. The implications of this we have to consider.”

    The committee’s first priority was to deal with the situation at Larchgrove, Mr Johnston said.

    Mr Robert Bryson, town clerk depute, said the suspensions of Mr Murdoch and Mr McMahon were not necessarily connected with the allegations of ill treatment of boys.

    He added: “They have been responsible for the supervision of the home and it is in this respect that the committee felt it necessary that they should be suspended, on full pay, and without any punitive atmosphere attached to it at this stage.”

    Councillor Patrick said that the committee recognised the general validity of the criticism, accepted the 14 recommendations in the inquiry report, and “are resolved that, as far as possible, these matters should be put right.”

    In isolation

    A special sub-committee had been appointed to consider the report and order recommendations as quickly as possible after hearing what the members of the staff had to say. Obviously there was no easy solution and the necessary changes could not be made overnight.

    She said: “It is our firm intention to see our house in order both as regards Larchgrove and as regards headquarters support and in consultation with the establishments committee (who deal with staff and conditions) and others concerned we shall see that this is done.”

    Councillor Patrick said the committee would have to consider what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken in light of the report. They were very conscious of the point highlighted in the report stating that the specific and general allegations of misconduct by the Larchgrove staff could not fairly be looked at in isolation from the surrounding circumstances in which they were placed.

    That section of the report added: “While violence, even of a minor degree, cannot be condoned, it must be understood in its context. The blame cannot, in our opinion, wholly be put upon the staff concerned.”


    The inquiry team, who said the assessment centre had “an impersonal and emotionally bleak regime,” made recommendations for improvements at Larchgrove, including a speedy change from the block organisation to a three-unit system; building plans incorporating a secure unit for the most violent and disturbed boys; more and better qualified professional staff; at least four qualified teachers for educational activities; less fragmentation in the daily routine and elimination of unnecessary and pointless rituals; and more women professional staff, eventually in the ratio of not fewer than one in three.

    Councillor Patrick said that Mr William Jardine, acting depute superintendent of Loaningdale School, had assumed responsibility at Larchgrove after the suspensions.

    Mr Henry Herron, procurator-fiscal at Glasgow, said yesterday that a decision would be made soon on whether or not prosecutions would be made as a result of the allegations.

  7. Troyhand said:
    The Glasgow Herald – Mar 8, 1973
    Corporation blamed for failing to alter boys’ centre regime
    By Claude Thomson

    The regime at Larchgrove assessment centre, Glasgow, contained features which “tend to foster, rather than reduce, an atmosphere of potential violence from both staff and boys,” according to a report of an independent inquiry into allegations of ill-treatment of boys at the centre.

    Mr Ronald Bennett, QC, Sheriff of Berwickshire, and Mr Peter Righton, a senior official of the National Children’s Bureau, carried out the inquiry on behalf of Glasgow Corporation into the validity of allegations made by Mr Francis Carrigan, a supervisor at the centre, and into the administration and organisation of the centre.

    Thirty specific allegations were investigated; 53 witnesses were interviewed in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Montrose, Longriggend, Tranent, Polmont, Larbert, and Hastines; and the inquiry took 18 working days.


    The corporation are sharply criticised for allowing the situation at the centre to continue despite a series of detailed recommendations made in 1969 by social work advisers from the Social Work Service Group in Edinburgh.

    Mr Bennet and Mr Righton say: “Despite this report and two follow-up letters dated September 15, 1970, and February 3, 1971, from the Social Work Services Group to the town clerk urging that action be taken on the recommendations, it appears that the corporation took no steps to implement any part of them until the establishments committee approved the revised staffing arrangements (as proposed by the director of social work) on October 3, 1972.


    “In our view, therefore, the corporation must accept a major part of the responsibility for the continuance since 1969 of an inappropriate care regime at Larchgrove as well as for failure to mitigate the stress-producing circumstances in which staff have been continuously working.”

    Referring to Mr Robert Murdoch, superintendent of the home, the inquiry team say: “While we hold that the corporation must bear the major part of the responsibility for the situation at Larchgrove on which we have reported, we believe that the superintendent cannot be wholly exonerated from blame for certain aspects of it.

    “In particular, we find that he has not displayed the qualities of initiative and leadership that can reasonably be expected from a person holding a responsible post at a high salary . . . and that the unsatisfactory regime we described earlier has operated under his direction, and that he should therefore accept at least partial responsibility for its continuous.

    “No significant changes in the regime appear to have taken place since the social work advisers reported on their inspection of Larchgrove in July, 1969.”


    At the end of their report, Mr Bennett and Mr Righton say that some of Mr Carrigan’s complaints (which have been omitted from the report) are trivial and other are exaggerated.

    “But substantially his allegations both specifically and generally, in so far as they do not fail for lack of proof, have been established.

    “We would commend his action as public-spirited and courageous, and it may well result in much-needed improvements being brought about at Larchgrove assessment centre.”

    The report of the inquiry is in two sections: the first deals with the allegations of misconduct by the staff, and the second with the administration and organisation of the centre.

    No Publicity

    A copy was sent to Mr Henry Herron, procurator-fiscal at Glasgow, who replied to the town clerk, saying: “This has been submitted to Crown counsel, who have instructed me to inform you that the press should be advised that the second part of the report can be published but that the first part has been referred to the criminal authorities for investigation and no publicity should be given until the question of criminal proceedings has been disposed of.”

    Referring in the second part to the current situation at the centre, the inquiry team say that “a major part of what we find unsatisfactory at Larchgrove stems from an inadequate appreciation by the corporation of the importance of an assessment service, and a consequent failure to provide appropriate resources and support.”

    “After a careful examination of the allegations made by Mr Carrigan, we do not find that the staff at Larchgrove pursued a course of systematic violence or harshness towards the boys in their charge.

    “Indeed we believe that the majority of the supervisors are conscientious and hard-working men undertaking an extremely difficult task with devotion and to the limit of their ability.

    “On the other hand, we are disturbed by a number of features of the regime in operation at Larchgrove which we believe tend to foster, rather than reduce, an atmosphere of potential violence from both staff and boys.

    “It is not our contention that the regime is deliberately designed to create such an atmosphere, but rather that it is an unintended consequence of various factors.”

    The report says that the regime, in its denial of opportunities to boys to express their true selves, tends to foster one of two opposite reactions: apathetic conformity or rebelliousness.

    “In a situation where virtually everything a person does is prescribed or forbidden by rule, this is an inevitable result.

    “Either one obeys and escapes notice, or one disobeys and is branded as a troublemaker; there is no middle ground of tolerated individual choice.”

    “Stress-producing circumstances” at Larchgrove cited by the inquiry team include overcrowding (it was built as a remand home for a maximum of 74 boys, but has had a total daily number seldom below 80 and on one occasion had 127); overworked staff; buildings unsuited to modern conceptions of care and assessment; lack of feminine influence; and inadequate training opportunities and consultancy services for staff.

  8. Troyhand said:
    Herald Scotland – Saturday 1 September 2007
    It was our duty to protect these children in remand homes. Instead they were sexually abused by staff for years’
    By Neil Mackay

    Former Glasgow ‘borstal’ at the centre of the latest child abuse scandal

    ON THE eve of a watershed government report explaining why children in Scottish care homes from the 1950s until the 1990s were allowed to be sexually abused, the Sunday Herald has uncovered yet another disturbing scandal.

    It centres on the sexual assault of children that lasted for decades in government-run Scottish remand homes and assessment centres – the country’s equivalent of borstals. Although children were abused at a number of borstal-type institutions in Scotland, the worst site appears to be a former Glasgow borstal called Larchgrove.

    The details are coming to light just as the Scottish Executive is preparing to publish the Historical Abuse Review, which is meant to draw a line under a series of shocking revelations about sex abuse in care homes run by independent organisations such as the Catholic Church and charities such as Quarriers.

    Des – not his real name – was put in Larchgrove 27 years ago as a boy. He was detained for playing truant from school to avoid bullying.

    “I was in there between 1978 and 1979,” he told the Sunday Herald. “The sexual and physical abuse was terrible. This was perpetrated both by staff – although not all of them – and also by people who didn’t work there.

    “I complained at the time, ran away and was dragged back screaming. Nothing was ever done. I still wake up screaming, sweat running off me, because of the abuse I suffered.”

    Des said he ended up a heroin addict through using drugs to “block out all the pain and abuse I suffered there”. He’s now been clean for six years and is happily married. He was the first of many people spoken to by the Sunday Herald who confirmed the routine abuse of children at Larchgrove.

    Reg McKay, a former director of social work who is now a best-selling crime writer, said he was aware of the abuse of children at Larchgrove from the very beginning of his career.

    As a trainee social worker in the mid-1970s, McKay came face-to-face with boys who provided evidence of sexual abuse at the infamous borstal.

    McKay was the social worker for three teenage boys who were locked up in Larchgrove. In 1976 they told him that they had witnessed other children suffering sexual abuse at the hands of both male and female staff. “These kids weren’t bad boys,” said McKay. “They were deeply disturbed – from dysfunctional homes. They had some very serious personal problems and were at risk of turning to offending or falling into drug misuse.” One boy told McKay that the most dangerous time in Larchgrove was just after lights-out when the boys were put to bed. The boys were housed in small dorms holding six to eight beds. Staff would sometimes call boys from their beds. Often this was for valid reasons, such as administering medicine, but at other times it was simply to abuse them.

    McKay says that on some occasions female staff took the children from their beds to be abused. The women provided the children with a false sense of security, ensuring that they didn’t panic or scream on their way to be abused. The women were “either standing by or taking part” in acts of abuse, McKay added.

    “I knew this was happening back then as I heard the allegations personally,” said McKay. “The kids trusted me and had no reason to lie. When I reported the allegations to management I expected a full investigation to take place for the sake of the boys who were being abused.

    “It was our duty to protect these kids and we clearly failed them. I went on to report what I was being told up the chain of command. I raised the allegations with senior members of social work staff. As far as I know there were at least three internal investigations, but nothing happened. There were no sackings, no charges – nothing.

    “To be blunt, many of the homes where children were being kept in those days were worse than something out of Oliver Twist. I can even remember staff taking money from children. These were kids who had nothing in the first place.”

    McKay says that he recalls the same allegations resurfacing about Larchgrove in the 1980s. “Allegations of child sex abuse were being made against many similar institutions at the time. As far as I know, nothing was done about these claims either.”

    McKay says that some managers “hated” him for reporting allegations of abuse and demanding investigations. “Many social workers found themselves in the same position: raising concerns and allegations with management then having no power to ensure the right action was taken,” he added. “It was bloody frustrating – especially when you or a colleague went back to the same institution a year or two later and heard similar allegations.”

    Later, as McKay’s career as a social worker progressed, he led two investigations into allegations of sexual abuse at Kerelaw – another institution for detaining children who’d broken the law. Glasgow City Council also ran this facility for vulnerable children. Kerelaw closed last year amid allegations of abuse.

    Glasgow City Council admitted that 40 of its employees had been alleged to have been involved in the sexual or physical abuse of children at the home. The council also said that some of those suspected of abusing children at Kerelaw were still working with children in care.

    At the end of his investigations into abuse allegations at Kerelaw in the 1980s, McKay recommended that the claims be passed to the police immediately and that those accused of assaulting children be suspended with no pay. “Once again, nothing happened,” he said. “And once again, I have no idea why.”

    Frank Doherty, founder of the Scottish organisation In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas), was sent to Larchgrove for 28 days in the late 1950s. He’d previously been in care in the notorious Smyllum orphanage in Lanarkshire where many children were abused. He used two words to sum up his memories of Larchgrove: “Getting battered.”

    Doherty was sent to Larchgrove for “petty criminality”, he said. The physical abuse he suffered at Smyllum had left him a mental wreck so he was in no state to withstand the violence at Larchgrove. “Going into Larchgrove after being in Smyllum set me back years as I’d already been battered and tortured. Larchgrove was just another Smyllum. I saw regular physical violence in Larchgrove and I was often on the receiving end of it.”

    Tommy “TC” Campbell was another child inmate at Larchgrove. He knew boys who were abused and spoke of warders trying – but failing – to sexually abuse him. Campbell was wrongly jailed for life for the deaths of six members of one family in a firebug attack during Glasgow’s infamous “ice cream wars”. He was jailed in 1984 and his conviction was not quashed until 20 years later.

    Campbell has always admitted that he was a tearaway as a teenager. He ended up in Larchgrove borstal in the mid-1960s aged 14 for truanting, trespassing and stealing eight pence. “Everything was brutal. The staff were just like screws,” he said. “They thought nothing about giving you a wallop. There were also a few child molesters among them.” It was common for boys who misbehaved to have their trousers pulled down before being beaten with a cane on their backsides.

    Campbell says he knew of a number of boys who were sexually abused. He also named one warder who preyed on the weakest boys in the borstal. The warder would single out bed-wetters and other vulnerable children, believing they were less likely to inform or resist.

    “They’d target the weak ones,” he said. “They wouldn’t go for the boys who were rebels or who were tougher lads as they wouldn’t stand for it. They’d go for the ones with no mum and dad – the ones who were in there for care and protection. It was the worst place the state could have sent them.

    “Everyone knew what was happening. You’d see boys being taking out of showers or their dorm and then the boys would tell you what happened to them. It was a terrifying place. You’d see boys in total terror – crying and withdrawn.”

    Campbell said that at the beginning of his time in Larchgrove there were attempts made to sexually abuse him. “Three different warders tried it with me,” he said, “but they realised very rapidly that I was not one to try it with.” Campbell later butted a warden for physically assaulting him.

    “The whole place was mentally and psychologically oppressive. We were starving all the time – there were fights over a slice of bread.” Campbell says that the children were even fed tins of pet food. “It was like Colditz. Boys were always plotting ways of escaping, although you’d be badly beaten for trying.” Many boys were deliberately disruptive because they hoped they would be transferred to an adult jail and get away from the abuse at Larchgrove.

    Tom Shaw, who is heading up the independent review of historic abuse for the Scottish government, said his report – due out shortly – investigated the flaws in the care system that allowed paedophiles to abuse children. He said that the revelations about Larchgrove underscored the need for the review. “It shows the point of our work,” he said.

    The review will highlight failures in the system which can be used by victims of abuse to sue the state for failing to protect them while young. However, no individual homes or perpetrators will be named in order not to prejudice future criminal trials.

    Referring to the claims of abuse at Larchgrove, Shaw added: “What we don’t know is how many more people may still want to come forward to tell their story.”

  9. Troyhand said:,689534
    The Glasgow Herald – Oct 3, 1974
    Jailed teacher got job at boys’ home

    A full investigation was ordered yesterday to find out how a man who had been jailed for indecent behavior got teaching jobs in two homes for maladjusted boys run by Glasgow Corporation. In one of the homes he formed an indecent association with a 13-year-old boy.

    Corporation officials admitted last night that the city education department do not check a residential teacher’s background with the police although this is standard practice with the social work department.

    It appeared that when the teacher in question moved from a school run by the education department to a residential centre controlled by the social work department, the latter did not make their normal check on his record because they assumed this would have been done already.

    The inquiry was ordered after Robert William Henderson, a 28-year-old former youth club worker in Glasgow, of 43 Rosebank Crescent, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to two charges of indecent practices towards a 13-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy in houses in the city and in a cinema between January and March this year.

    Pleas of not guilty to two further charges involving another boy were accepted by the Crown. Sheriff John Mowat remanded Henderson in custody until October 21 for a psychiatric report.

    Mr Ian Carmichael, procurator-fiscal depute, said the accused was now working as a baths attendant in Dumfries. When the offences came to light he was living in Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, and was working as a milkman. He had a previous conviction for which he was sentenced to nine months in May, 1969.

    Henderson was taken on in August, 1972, as a house father at Castlecraig Residential School for maladjusted children at West Linton, Peeblesshire, which is controlled by GLasgow Education Department.

    While there he met the 13-year-old boy, who was an inmate, and they struck up an association.

    The accused wrote to the boy’s family and asked to stay with them while in Glasgow. For quite a number of weekends and days off he was a visitor or resident in the house. The fact that he Castlecraig made the boy’s parents well disposed towards him and he later became the family lodger.

    Towards the end of last year he got a job at Larchgrove Assessment Centre, Glasgow. He was given an oral reference from Castlecraig that he was suitable as a social worker provided he was not resident. When the head master at Castlecraig heard later that Henderson lived at the 13-year-old boy’s home, he called with a social worker and gave the parents certain advice.

    At Ease

    Henderson left, but it was soon discovered that the boy had gone to work on his milk round with him. Later it was found that Henderson had also struck up a relationship with an 11-year-old boy.

    Mr Murray McArn, defending, said that before and after his imprisonment Henderson lived with a woman on Possilpark.

    He found young boys attractive because he felt at ease with them. Since these offenders came to light he had gone to live with his parents for the first time since leaving school at 17.

    Last night Bailie Albert Long, Glasgow’s social work convener, said he was ordering an immediate inquiry into the circumstances of Henderson’s employment.

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