Inadequate and inaccurate information was given to the Scottish Government which resulted in the delay of a child abuse inquiry being held, it has been heard.

Evidence was given to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry on Friday which told of ministers and civil servants being warned of some form of systemic issues as early as 2002.

However, a decision to hold an inquiry was not made until late 2014 – despite pressure from campaigners – after those in the Scottish Cabinet heard first-hand evidence.

John Scott QC, representing survivor group Incas, claimed an inquiry into mistreatment of children in care was only made possible due to the efforts of abuse survivors.

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He said: “Although this case study is about the response of the Scottish Government between 2002 and 2014, it is also about the strength and determination of a small group of survivors who wouldn’t accept no for an answer.

“In how they have succeeded in giving voice to previously unheard children, they are anything but ordinary.

“They felt and feel the deep sense of responsibility in their quest for justice and they feel the heavy weight of those who are no longer with us.

“This isn’t just about delays – this is about delays with real consequences.”

Mr Scott criticised an apology in 2004 from then first minister Jack McConnell, which omitted the responsibility of the Scottish Government after receiving late legal advice.

It was heard this was done to avoid letting other institutions “off the hook”.

The lawyer told the inquiry that misrepresentations about the scale of abuse and justification to hold an inquiry were always to the detriment of one taking place.

He said: “The Government record-keeping and advice on this subject was inaccurate and inadequate.

“Conversations on this subject were inadequate, communication with survivors was inadequate.

“Advice from officials emphasised reasons for not having an inquiry rather than having one.

“Policy decisions changed when ministers personally met with survivors.”

Judge Lady Smith, chairwoman of the inquiry, then asked whether civil servants should have advised serious consideration of holding an inquiry at an earlier stage, to which he said they should have.

The inquiry in Edinburgh continues.