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Former foster child tells inquiry of being beaten with a belt until he bled

Lady Smith is chairing the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (Nick Mailer/PA)
Lady Smith is chairing the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (Nick Mailer/PA)

A former foster child has spoken of his ordeal at the hands of carers as he told an inquiry he was beaten with a belt until he bled.

Christopher Scott spent time in foster homes in Scotland in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry chaired by Lady Smith heard on Wednesday.

Mr Scott, 52, who waived his right to anonymity, told the inquiry about the treatment he said he received which included being humiliated, harsh punishments and regular beatings.

“The punishment regime, I would be sent to bed with no food. Some of those punishments would last a day, maybe a day and a half,” he said, adding that he remembered “stealing kids’ packed lunches” and raiding a store of food kept in the attic.

Mr Scott, who was known to be coeliac at the time, said if he did not eat a meal at the time it would be there at the following meal for him, and he would have to “eat little tiny bits of it”.

“I remember bringing up bile and stuff like that because it was so nasty. I had to finish, there was no option not to,” he said.

Ruth Innes QC, the inquiry’s senior counsel, was told that Mr Scott was subject to beatings, including lashings with a belt, which he told the inquiry continued until he bled.

Lady Smith heard Mr Scott was also forced to eat soap and made to stand facing the wall for significant periods of time when it was decided he had done something wrong.

The inquiry also heard what happened when he wet the bed, with punishments including being forced to sleep on the kitchen floor and his nose being forced into the wet bed.

He told of his fear of being caught, and said he often tried to hide wet sheets and stay away from his carers when he had to wear his wet pyjamas the following night so they could not smell him.

At one point, other children in the house told his foster mother he wanted to go out into the snow naked, so she threw him out out as punishment.

The inquiry in Edinburgh heard that he felt like the children ganged up on him, which led him to him not trusting them either.

He told the hearing how difficult it was to speak with his social worker because of her relationship with his foster mother.

“She was very pally with her and seemed to really respect her. Always taking her story,” he said, adding: “(She would repeat) everything she would tell her and reprimand me for my behaviour. I didn’t feel like she was on my side at all.”

Towards the end of his time in their care, he developed scabies and ingrowing toenails, and he was eventually removed in the early 1980s, the inquiry heard.

Also giving evidence was a woman who lived with Mr Scott in the foster home, who told of the lashings.

She said: “It didn’t matter who was wrong, everybody was in a line with their pants pulled down with the belt pulled out.”

The inquiry also heard how Mr Scott was “always in trouble”, and a story was made up to say he dressed up a girl.

The witness said the foster mother confronted him about the story, which he denied, but because she determined he was a liar “she dressed him up like a girl”.

The inquiry continues.