Two Catholic charities have raised fears of bias as they launched a legal challenge against the choice of chairwoman for Scotland’s public inquiry into historic cases of child abuse.
The Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth and the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul have lodged a petition for judicial review at Edinburgh’s Court of Session objecting to the Scottish Government’s appointment of Susan O’Brien QC.
Their action centres on Ms O’Brien’s involvement in a case brought against the Poor Sisters of Nazareth at the House of Lords by two former residents of Nazareth House children’s home in Glasgow who alleged they were abused in the 1960s and 70s.
Ms O’Brien acted as counsel for the former residents in their 2008 appeal which unsuccessfully challenged an earlier court ruling that the claims were time barred, or made too late.
Alastair Duncan QC, representing the charities, told the Court of Session: “The particular concern that my clients have is that Ms O’Brien had acted for individuals alleging abuse against them, that she had supported the allegations that were made by appearing as counsel for those individuals and that she is now being asked to adjudicate on the very same issues.”
Mr Duncan said the allegations that arose in the House of Lords case were “almost certain” to be heard again at the public inquiry.