Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 11:56 UK

Child abuse case payouts near 1m

Peter Harley
Harley was sentenced to 15 years in jail for his crimes

A council is to pay nearly £1m to victims of a child abuse scandal at one of its residential homes in the 1970s.

Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed last year to make £20,000 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.

The council had prepared to make payments to 20 known victims - one of whom has since died - but a further 28 people have now come forward.

Peter Harley inflicted physical and sexual abuse on boys aged from six to 16 when he ran Merkland. He was jailed for 15 years in 1996 for his crimes.

Public apology

Dumfries and Galloway Council made a public apology last year and also agreed to make the ex-gratia payments.

Attempts to sue the council were previously dismissed in court in 2003 as time-barred.

A report to the authority this week says a total of 47 people have been identified as being entitled to payments.

The council has also raised concerns with the Law Society of Scotland about the handling of some victims' compensation claims.

A formal response is still being awaited on that issue.

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