A RENFREWSHIRE charity has apologised to people who were historically migrated to Canada and Australia as children as part of a major investigation into child abuse.

Phase five of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry began this week in Edinburgh, which relates to the abuse of children who left Scotland for other countries.

And bosses at Quarriers said they are sorry to more than 7,000 children sent abroad by the charity between 1872 and 1938, and to those who suffered abuse.

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Alice Harper, chief executive, said: “While people and organisations including Quarriers believed at the time that the UK Government’s international migration scheme offered the chance of a better life, it was misguided and wrong. 

“Vulnerable children were sent away and we recognise that some also suffered physical and emotional abuse, including sexual abuse.

“Today, our organisation is a social care charity far removed from its origins and for many years, we have actively worked to help migrant children and their families trace their roots and access their records.

“We also remain committed to fully supporting the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and will continue to participate in an open and transparent manner.”

On behalf of Quarriers, Claire Mitchell QC read a statement to the inquiry saying the initial intention of migration was to “provide the chance for a perceived better life away from the poverty of Scottish cities”. 

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Ms Mitchell said: “It was part of William Quarrier’s philosophy that the organisation should arrange for children to be emigrated to Canada to allow the opportunity for more children to be cared for at the homes in Scotland.”

The Bridge of Weir-based charity, founded by philanthropist William Quarrier in 1871, acknowledged children suffered abuse and that there were “shortcomings” in the systems that were used to facilitate migration.

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