Skip to main content

0800 917 1000   Open weekdays 9am-5pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child Migration Programmes Investigation Report

The evidence the Inquiry received from former child migrants

6. Between 27 February and 10 March 2017 (our ‘Part 1’ public hearings), the Inquiry considered evidence from a number of former child migrants. They were invited to give testimony in recognition of the central importance of their experiences to the issues we had to consider, and to provide a proper context for the institutional evidence that followed. Many gave evidence to the Inquiry in person, travelling long distances to do so. Others, including those who were less able to travel, gave testimony via video link. The evidence of some was read to us.

7. The Part 1 witnesses were chosen to provide us with as full a picture as possible of the different institutions that migrated children and the different places to which they were sent. A total of 11 witnesses gave evidence in relation to migration by the Fairbridge Society (three of whom had been selected by Cornwall County Council),[1] eight in relation to the Sisters of Nazareth[2] and two in relation to Father Hudson’s.[3] In addition, we heard from one witness who had been migrated by each of the Children’s Society (CS), the National Children’s Home (NCH), the Royal Overseas League and the Southwark Catholic Rescue Society (SCRS).[4]

8. We are grateful to all those former child migrants who provided us with their evidence, especially given the length of time many of them had waited to share their accounts, and the difficulty many of them had in talking about their experiences. We urge readers of this report to read the testimony given by the witnesses in full.[5]

9. We have made clear that we do not intend to make any findings in relation to the sexual abuse described by individual former child migrants: rather, it is the broad pattern and substance of the accounts that assist us in approaching the core question of the institutional responses to those allegations or that evidence.

10. We also considered some extracts from books that had been written by former child migrants to Southern Rhodesia, and in which allegations of sexual abuse were made.[6] 

11. The Inquiry received many more accounts of sexual abuse from former child migrants than we were able to adduce in the public hearings. These accounts were summarised for us in a table by the Inquiry legal team,[7] and we also considered these. Dr Humphreys also summarised for us various accounts that she had received through her work.[8]

12. In order to understand the experiences of child migrants, we have considered the broader picture of these regimes, which included many types of abuse as set out below.



  1. Marcelle O’Brien (28 February 2017 2017); CM-A2 (28 February 2017 2017); Edward Scott (2 March 2017 69-89); CM-A26 (7 March 2017 141-147); CM-A22 (8 March 2017); CM-A82 (8 March 2017 67-73); and David Hill (8 March 2017 73-117) had been migrated by Fairbridge and described their experiences. Peter Bagshaw (28 February 2017 82-945); CM-A14 (28 February 2017 95-131); and CM-A12 (2 March 2017 56-68) had been selected by Cornwall County Council and then migrated through Fairbridge. Patricia Skidmore gave evidence about the sexual abuse her mother (a Fairbridge migrant to Canada) had described (9 March 2017 138-181). In addition we heard from CM-A3 who was migrated through Middlemore homes to a Fairbridge institution (7 March 2017 147-165).
  2. CM-A4 (1 March 2017 2-60); Oliver Cosgrove (1 March 2017 81-145); CM-A6 (1 March 2017 60-81); CM-A5 (3 March 2017 1-66); Francis Hanley (3 March 2017 66-82); Michael O’Donoghue (3 March 2017 83-168); CM-A13 (7 March 2017 48-64); and CM-A11 (8 March 2017 31-67).
  3. CM-A17 (7 March 2017 64-82) and Edward Delaney (7 March 2017 83-141).
  4. CM-A2 (28 February 2017 65-82); CM-A19 (7 March 2017 3-47); Michael Hawes (2 March 2017 90-117) and CM-A20 (2 March 2017 2-55).
  5. The transcripts of the evidence are available here:
  6. Lynch 10 March 2017 152-157.
  7. INQ001259.
  8. Humphreys 9 March 2017 46-49.
Back to top