Lanark’s Smyllum orphans to have their say at abuse inquiry

The former Smyllum Orphanage in Lanark
The former Smyllum Orphanage in Lanark

The inquiry into historical child abuse in Scotland has confirmed that events at Lanark’s former Smyllum Orphanage will be investigated as part of the probe.

And fears that now elderly former residents of the home will be prevented from giving evidence because their allegations are ‘time-barred’ have been swept away.

Over the years the Gazette has published harrowing accounts of the treatment of the orphans of the insitution that finally closed 30 years ago.

These allegations have ranged from regular bullying by staff to even an alleged cover-up of a murder at the orphanage.

However, a few have also come forward to testify that they were treated well and were happy during their time at the orphange, run by the Sisters of Charity Order for a century before being handed over to council control in the ’60s.

Now these ageing ‘Smyllum Kids’ are to be invited to tell their stories to the official Scottish Government inquiry into child abuse at 60 Scottish insitutions, ranging from religious order-run orphanages like Smyllum to top private schools such as the ones attended by Tony Blair, Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales.

Almost all the allegations of maltreatment at Smyllum which have come to the Gazette’s attention relate to the time when it was still run by the Sisters of Charity.

This means that most of the surviving orphans are now in their 60s or older and were alarmed when, intially, it seemed the inquiry would only consider evidence of abuse after the year 1963.

Almost all claims of maltreatment at Smyllum allegedly happened in the years between World War Two and the early ’60s and so many thought they would be ‘gagged’ and their distressing tales never told to the official investigation being conducted by Lady Smith.

She and her inquiry team are expected to produce a report in 2019 with recommendations for future action.

It is thought that few if any of the alleged Smyllum abusers are still alive and so legal proceedings against individuals resulting from the inquiry are thought unlikely.

Confirming all former Smyllum orphans will have their say, a statement from Lady Smith’s inquiry team said this week: “Smyllum Orphanage is an institution listed as one of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry’s current investigations.

“The inquiry will cover evidence within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse.”