A former child migrant has called for an inquiry to “name the villains” responsible for the sexual abuse of British children sent overseas.
Thousands of children were relocated to Australia and parts of the British Empire up to 1974.
Many experienced “unacceptable depravity”, the first hearing in the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales has heard.
One migrant, David Hill, called for perpetrators to be “named and shamed”.
Meanwhile the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has apologised and referred itself to the information commissioner after mistakenly sending out confidential information relating to abuse victims.
‘Beyond the law’
Mr Hill was 12 when he was sent with his two brothers to the Fairbridge Farm School in Western Australia.
He told the hearing: “We’ll never be able to undo the great wrong that was done to these children.
“But what is important to the survivors of sexual abuse is where this inquiry is satisfied with the evidence – name the villains.
“Many of them are beyond the grave and therefore beyond the law.
“But it would bring a great deal of the comfort to the people who as children were victims of these people if they were named and shamed.”
Inquiry counsel Henrietta Hill QC said claims of “systematic sexual abuse” in institutions and work environments would be heard throughout the inquiry.
The children, she said, were sent without consent of parents, wrongly told they were orphans, and denied basic details about their family backgrounds during their future lives.
For the government, Samantha Leek QC said: “Child migration is wrong. It should not have been sanctioned or facilitated…
“The lifelong consequences for those involved are a matter of deep and sincere regret.”
In 2009, the Australian government apologised for the cruelty shown to the child migrants.
Britain also made an apology in 2010. The apology contained no specific mention of sexual abuse.