A SCOT who was sexually abused after being forcibly transported to Australia almost 60 years ago is return to his homeland to expose the historic failures of the care system at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Melbourne-based grandfather Hugh McGowan, 68, spent three months travelling across the world as a vulnerable 13-year old after falling into state care when his mother’s family disowned her for becoming pregnant out of wedlock.

Initially the offer of a life in Australia appealed to the young teenager, but when he later changed his mind there was no way back.

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“I was told - you’re going,” he said. “I later found out they had written a letter telling my mother [that I was emigrating] but it had never reached her. So they sent me without my mother’s approval.”

Mr McGowan was one of 4,000 child migrants who was sent to Australia and other Commonwealth countries from 1947 to the 1970s.

He claims to have faced indiscriminate sexual and physical abuse throughout his life in institutions but he never breathed a word to his loved ones for 40 years.

He spent his earliest days with his mother, the youngest of nine siblings, in The Knowe in Albert Road in Glasgow, a home for unwed mothers, and when they had to leave because of his age she could not manage to look after him without the support of her family, and he began 11 years in care.

“I never got to meet my mother,” he said.

Only a blurry memory persists: he as a tearful infant and a woman waving at him whom he thinks may be his mother.

It is understood Mr McGowan’s mother died aged 52.

After arriving in Australia, the 13-year-old was posted to the infamous Dhurringile Rural Training Farm for Boys in Tatura, Victoria.

He claims he again suffered sexual and psychological abuse, and was threatened by one abuser to keep quiet or facing being imprisoned in a detention centre.

For many years he bottled up the abuse, not telling anyone, even his wife.

The retired public service worker, who has two sons and three grandchildren, said: “While I had a good job and was not out of work very often, I struggled with relationships with colleagues because I didn’t know how to react with them.

“They found it difficult with me some of the time.”

Many victims of abuse, he said, have been unable to overcome the impact and have been engulfed by social problems, falling into addiction or struggling with mental health difficulties.

Mr McGowan came back from the edge after being plagued by with an addiction to alcohol.

He said: “That would have been me if it wasn’t for my family. They are my absolute reason for living.”

He added: “I do have a good life, but it was tough.”

Inquiry officials are to interview Mr McGowan this month over presenting his evidence to the inquiry.

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“My intention is to attend the inquiry. The fact that they dispatched me to Australia when I didn’t want to go and that they didn’t have the approval from my mother, it’s not good at all.

“The British Government failed us. They (care workers) had good intentions, but they failed in their duties.

“I’m not particularly looking for compensation, but I do think it is appropriate.

“I think we need acknowledgement by the governments (UK and Australian), particularly the British Government, that what they did was completely wrong.”

Mr McGowan tells his story tonight in the BBC 2 programme Growing Up in Scotland: A Century of Childhood.