THE Scottish Government has apologised for the “suffering” of child migrants sent abroad by institutions entrusted to care for them.

Thousands of children from Scotland were sent overseas through child migration schemes that ran until 1971.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry heard evidence of sexual and physical abuse of child migrants sent from Scotland to Australia and Canada – some of whom were falsely told they had no family.

As the latest phase of the inquiry focusing on the child migration schemes opens, Christine O’Neill QC, representing the Scottish Government, said it “accepts and acknowledges the very particular role of the state” in the child migration programme.

She added: “The trauma, loneliness and despair of children who were sent abroad by their home country unaccompanied and separated from their families could not have occurred without state sanction.

“As Scotland’s children they were entitled to the care and protection of the state, including public authorities in Scotland, who facilitated by active complicity or by turning a blind eye their migration and abuse.

“The Scottish Government is extremely sorry for the suffering they experienced.”

Pointing out the devolved Scottish Government was not operational at the time of the schemes, she said it fully endorses a formal apology then-prime minister Gordon Brown made in Parliament in 2010 to child migrants and their families on behalf of the nation.