Scotland

Timeline: Events leading to Susan O'Brien's resignation

Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Ms O'Brien. centre, and Prof Lamb, right, have both quit the inquiry. Panellist Glenn Houston [first left] remains an inquiry member

The resignation of Susan O'Brien QC as head of a panel examining historical child abuse in Scotland is the latest in a series of controversies. Here is a timeline of events which led to the departure of Ms O'Brien.


December 2014 - Abuse inquiry announced

Following a series of disclosures of abuse in childcare institutions in Scotland, the Scottish government announced that it would be setting up an inquiry to examine the details. Ministers said panel members and a chairman would be appointed in due course.


May 2015 - Susan O'Brien appointed

Leading QC Susan O'Brien was appointed to chair the inquiry, which will have statutory powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.

The new head said she would give full details of how the inquiry would operate once panel members had been appointed by the Scottish government.

She added at the time: "It would be helpful if all other interested parties made themselves known to the inquiry now, so that their views can also be taken into account."


01 October 2015 - Abuse inquiry formally set up

The inquiry formally begins its work to investigate allegations of child abuse at Scottish institutions.


22 February 2016 - Susan O'Brien QC makes comments

During a training session attended by 10 inquiry team members, she appeared to make light of the abuse suffered by an individual at a boarding school.


09 May 2016 - Scottish government informed of concerns

Psychologist Claire Fyvie, who attended training session, emails government to say that she has concerns about comments made by Ms O'Brien.


10 May 2016 - Susan O'Brien rejects criticism

The chair, other panel members and senior counsel to the inquiry, reject characterisation of Ms O'Brien as a "person whose attitudes, values and beliefs are incompatible with the post of chair of a public inquiry into child abuse".


16 May 2016 - Susan O'Brien asked to resign

The chair is asked to resign by Scottish government officials on the basis of the letter of complaint. She refuses.


20 May 2016 - Proceedings to remove Susan O'Brien begin

Susan O'Brien advised that Scottish ministers are "initiating proceedings" against her under reference section 12 of the Public Inquiries Act 2005.


25 May 2016 - Second panel member Michael Lamb supports Susan O'Brien

Prof Michael Lamb writes to John Swinney backing Susan O'Brien and says section 12 proceedings seem to be "predicated on the assumption that Scottish ministers, rather than the panel, should control the inquiry".


30 May 2016 - Third panel member Glenn Houston supports Susan O'Brien

John Swinney receives a letter from another panel member of the inquiry giving his support to Susan O'Brien. Mr Houston warns that there would be a "significant risk of loss of public trust and confidence in the integrity of the inquiry should the chair be removed from office".


31 May 2016 - John Swinney meets Lamb and Houston

Glenn Houston and Prof Michael Lamb meet with the deputy first minister. Prof Lamb warns that he will resign if Mr Swinney moves to dismiss Ms O'Brien.


22 June 2016 - Susan O'Brien meets John Swinney

Ms O'Brien insists that she does not underestimate the gravity of child abuse. The QC also states that the legal basis for the section 12 proceedings are "fundamentally flawed".


27 June 2016 - Prof Michael Lamb resigns

Prof Lamb writes to John Swinney resigning as one of three panel members in the child abuse inquiry, saying it is "doomed" by government interference.


30 June 2016 - Nicola Sturgeon rejects accusation of interference

The first minister stands up at Holyrood and says ministers do not accept Prof Lamb's claims about the independence of the inquiry.


4 July 2016 - Susan O'Brien QC resigns

The chairwoman of the inquiry writes to ministers tendering her resignation from the position with immediate effect.

Related Topics

More on this story