Page last updated at 05:14 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 06:14 UK

Child abuse case payment proposed

Dumfries and Galloway Council logo
Dumfries and Galloway Council is being asked to issue a full apology

A council is proposing to pay £20,000 to every victim of a child abuse scandal at one of its residential homes dating back to the late 1970s.

Dumfries and Galloway Council will be asked to approve payments to people identified as having suffered abuse at the hands of Peter Harley.

He was in charge of Merkland Children's Home in Moffat between 1977 and 1982.

Councillors will discuss the deal as well as the possibility of making a full public apology later this week.

Peter Harley inflicted physical and sexual abuse on boys aged from six to 16 when he ran Merkland for five years.

However, it was years before any of the victims came forward to report what happened and not until 1996 that Harley was eventually jailed for 15 years for his crimes at the High Court in Glasgow.

Full apology

Since then, various attempts by victims to sue Dumfries and Galloway Council for damages have failed in the legal process and the cases are now time-barred.

Now a council working group is recommending that a full apology be issued along with ex gratia payments of £20,000.

It has identified a group of 20 victims whose abuse formed the basis of the case against Harley.

Police interviewed 67 people at the time and some of them may also be entitled to compensation.

Councillors will be asked to approve the payment package at a special meeting of the authority on Thursday morning.

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