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Church of Scotland pays £1m in damages to three abused siblings

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The Church of Scotland has paid £1m in damages to three siblings who were sexually abused by a paedophile who ran a children’s home in Edinburgh.

The woman and two men were among the victims of Ian Samson, who was jailed in 2013 for 14 years after being found guilty of 22 rapes and sexual assaults during abuse lasting three decades.


Samson was the superintendent of the Lord and Lady Polwarth children’s home and carried out the abuse against the three siblings in the 1970s. Eight of the offences he was convicted of took place there.

In what is thought to be the largest such award from a Scottish religious organisation, the woman was awarded £500,000 and her two brothers £250,000 each.

In a statement issued by their solicitors, Digby Brown in Edinburgh, the siblings said they had nearly given up trying to get the church to accept responsibility for Samson’s actions.

“Samson was evil and robbed us of our childhood and our future. Our case has never been about the money – raising a civil action in the courts was the only way we could get any sort of acknowledgement from the Church of Scotland,” they said.

“It’s a shame that an organisation which promotes ‘goodness and morals’ can’t do the right thing themselves and hold their hands up and apologise rather than force victims to go endure further legal proceedings.”

The church, which is Scotland’s largest Protestant religious body, said it had previously expressed its “deep and sincere regret” for Samson’s conduct, and said it hoped the settlement would help the three siblings feel some measure of justice.

“The safety of children is of paramount importance to us, we have carried out a full independent review of the circumstances occurring in the 1970s so that we could learn any lessons for our safeguarding practices today,” the church said.

“Whilst this settlement can never undo what has been done, we hope that it finally brings a sense of justice to the individuals affected and provides some small redress for the trauma which they experienced while in our care.”

The church is among a large number of institutions being investigated by the Scottish child abuse inquiry, a long-running judge-led investigation into decades of abuse in children’s homes and institutions, much of which was covered up.

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