Allegations of Abuse in Institutions
A group planning to take legal action against the Salvation Army is refusing to deal with the religious charity's independent watchdog, Roger McClay.
The Salvation Army is holding an inquiry into claims of abuse alleged to have taken place at its former children's homes. It appointed former children's commissioner Mr McClay as an independent monitor of its investigation last week.
Salvation Army Abuse Survivors spokeswoman Jan Lowe said Mr McClay faced a conflict of interest as he was working for the Salvation Army yet expected to make impartial and independent judgments. "We are mistrustful of having any dealings with him because he's perceived by people in the group as being part of the Salvation Army team."
The group of 27 people, which formed two months ago, wants an independent inquiry. It plans to take a class action against the Salvation Army and is seeking legal advice.
Mr McClay said he was surprised by the group's attitude and his judgments would not be influenced by his employer.
His pay rate had not been finalised.
"For five-and-a-half years I was paid by the Government (as children's commissioner) and when I needed to I told them where to get off."
He said he was open to being employed by an independent agency or group rather than the Salvation Army.
Salvation Army spokesman Alistair Herring said Mr McClay was appointed because of his faultless credibility. "(Payment) does not in any way mean his independence is being compromised and it would be a judgment on his integrity to suggest that."
The Salvation Army has received at least 23 formal claims of abuse. Most originated from stays at Hodderville Boys Home in the Waikato town of Putaruru, and a Salvation Army home in Masterton.
Child, Youth and Family has been contacted by 17 people claiming to be former state wards, alleging abuse.
Roger McClay: Credibility.