A PENSIONER is prepared to commit civil disobedience to draw attention to the abuse he claims to have suffered as a child at the hands of nuns.
Fred Aitken, 71, of Hoole, is prepared to chain himself to the railings outside the house of the Archbishop of Glasgow, Most Rev Mario Conti, to shame the Catholic Church.
Mr Aitken, a Scot who has spent more than 30 years in Chester, is among more than 400 people seeking a financial settlement because of the alleged psychological damage inflicted by the Sisters of Nazareth.
But Mr Aitken, who says his real motivation is to force an apology, is considering taking direct action because of frustration over a time bar which means cases before 1964 will not be considered by the courts.
He said: 'They are trying to come up with this thing about a time bar so I'm prepared to do this - a man of my age - I would go up there and deliberately be disobedient. I have to do something to raise the issue again if it becomes necessary.
'At the end of the day, even if I have to chain myself to that place, I would do that. I would notify the newspapers here and up there as well.'
A retired car park attendant at County Hall, Mr Aitken was sent to live at a convent at Lasswade, near Edinburgh, when his father couldn't cope with eight children after his mother died.
'I went to Nazareth House at the age of six - me and my two sisters. That was the last time I saw them for four years,' he said.
Mr Aitken said his sisters, then aged four and nine, used to pray at the same chapel as him but boys and girls were segregated. They were not allowed to turn their heads to exchange even a glance otherwise the nuns would thrash them with a leather belt which they carried next to their rosary beads.
When Mr Aitken was told he could see his sisters again at the age of 10 he was confused because the nuns were also referred to as sisters. He thought it was a trick and 'ran for my life'.
A former member of The Communist Party, Mr Aitken has supported the underdog in various causes throughout such his life because of his experience.
He recalled the beatings were handed out for such trivial matters as bed wetting and swallowing the water after brushing one's teeth. He tried to curry favour with the sisters but discovered this didn't get him very far.
'I said to one nun 'It's a beautiful day sister, isn't it?'. She replied: 'Every day is a beautiful day given to us by God' and how dare I suggest it and to go for a thrashing.'
Mr Aitken says that as a result of his treatment he has suffered from low self-esteem all his life, but unlike many of his peers, who turned to drink and drugs or took their own lives, he somehow got through.
He moved from one 'little job' to another even though he suspected he could have made much more of himself.
'I just survived, I didn't achieve anything,' said Mr Aitken, who denies he is seeking a large cash pay-out. 'I want them to apologise.'
Archbishop Conti of the Scottish branch of the Church told BBC documentary Frontline, which investigated allegations of abuse including that of Mr Aitken, it was 'possible' that nuns may have mistreated children.
'We are human beings. We are all flawed and fallible and members of religious orders are no different.
'So it's possible. That it is probable I am not so sure, though some people clearly have a memory of having been treated badly, as they see it, in regard to bed-wetting.
'There are some people before whom lawyers have been dangling a pot of gold. There are a whole range of possible motives, some of which are perhaps more understandable and more acceptable and others more reprehensible.'