Report #1: Introduction and Terms of Reference

This report (Report #1) is the first of a series of ISN themed responses to the Sarah Morgan review. In these reports Islington Survivors Network present a challenge to the findings of Sarah Morgan QC Review (7.11.18)

Introduction

“They want us all to die, go to prison or lose our minds so they don’t have to deal with the untold truth… we will keep on keeping on..”

“What I fail to understand about wasting a year on a report that doesn’t expose the necessary information of the paedophile ring that we all know did exist as survivors is that these people must have a vested interest in not exposing the truth.”

Islington Survivor 2018

“You [ISN] have pursued justice by presenting facts and truths. They are just and honourable tools. Your pleas for justice have not produced the required fruit, not because your methods were in any way insufficient, they were not. But there are too many abusers in powerful decision making positions EVERYWHERE who are not going to let their disgusting and criminal activities be taken away from them. That such is possible is sickening.”

Former LBI residential worker 2018
Dr Liz Davies’ reponse and clarification of the Joint opinion ‘In the matter of the
White Report, Islington Gazette and Sandy Marks’ by James Goudie and Holly Stout;
ACPC = Area Child Protection Committee

Acknowledgements

These 17 reports have been written by and researched by Charlotte Russell and Dr Liz Davies for ISN.

ISN acknowledge the contributions of survivors, families of survivors, former staff, whistleblowers, journalists, lawyers and others who have provided us with their accounts and documentation which have made these reports possible for ISN to make public. ISN have included comment from ISN survivors, the report ISN founder/co-ordinator Dr Liz Davies submitted to the Sarah Morgan QC Review, her interview transcript and other documentation with appropriate redactions.

ISN also acknowledge the determination of the current council to work with survivors in the development of a Trauma Service and Support Services for ISN survivors and the setting up of a Redress Scheme. Council leader Richard Watts has repeatedly made apologies and admitted council culpability.

Councillor Watts apologised over what he called  “the darkest chapter in the council’s history. We are desperately sorry. The council clearly did not do its best. There was systematic failure all the way through the council for all of those years. That was on the part of individual members of staff and the system collectively. It’s time now to put to right the mistakes of the past… he said children in Islington’s care were subjected to terrible physical and mental abuse from the 70s to the 90s.”

Islington Gazette 28.9.17

ISN also wish to thank staff at the Islington Local History Centre at Finsbury Library for their assistance with our research, as well as the British Library Newsroom, Bishopsgate Institute Library and the London School of Economic’s Hall Carpenter Collection.

ISN would like to acknowledge the work of Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter in their Centre for Investigative Journalism Handbooks The Hidden Scenario for providing the methodology and tools to deduce, if not yet the map to the finished labyrinth, the blueprint for the build.

Morgan found no evidence of organised abuse….

Sarah Morgan QC has restated in her Review the conclusion of  the White Inquiry (1995) that ‘Allegations of organised abuse were investigated but not substantiated’ (White Inquiry p47).  Morgan QC went as far as saying that she found no evidence of organised abuse even though she at no stage defined her terms. (The definition of organised abuse was included in national child protection guidance in 1991. In 2013 the definition and methods of investigation of organised abuse were erased from statutory guidance).

ISN consider that Morgan QC has made a serious error of judgement in this respect. Morgan QC interviewed 8 ISN survivors but refused to see or missed 9 others who wanted to tell her about abuse networks. She said in her Review that their evidence fell outside the timescales of the Terms of Reference. ISN say Morgan QC went outside the Terms of Reference in making generalised statements about there being no evidence of organised abuse networks. She based her conclusion on four false premises which we explore in detail in Report #4 .

ISN can trace the connections between abusers not only within and between the children’s homes, foster placements, secure units and boardings schools but to abusers nationally and internationally and can evidence how abusers were protected.

17 ISN Reports and more to come…

In other reports ISN will examine how the ideology of the Paedophile Information Exchange (‘PIE’) set the scene for child sex abusers to infiltrate the children’s homes and child care systems of Islington. Between 1974-1984 PIE met regularly in Islington to promote the social acceptance of ‘paedophiles’ as a recognised minority group which campaigned for the abolition of the age of consent and the decriminalisation of adult sexual assaults on children. Further reports are being written based on survivor and witness accounts and documentary evidence relating to specific children’s homes. In the 90s there was reference in the media and in inquiries to just 12 children’s homes but ISN now know there were 48 Islington children’s homes as well as foster placements: Gisburne  House, New Park House, 11 Sheringham Road, 75a Mildmay Park, 114 Grosvenor Avenue, 29 and 80 Highbury New Park, 11-12 Highbury Crescent, 14 Conewood Street and 1 and 3 Elwood Street will be covered in detail in the reports as ISN survivors and witnesses tell us most about abuse in these homes.

Please note that Appendix 7 of the Morgan Review has still not been made available to ISN for comment. In order not to delay our response to Morgan QC’s Review, ISN have decided to publish our responses without the knowledge of which documents Morgan QC read.

List of 48 Islington children’s homes as known to ISN

ISN have also had reports from survivors in over 30 foster placements, 9 secure units and 14 boarding schools as well as other children’s homes in different local authority control.

See also list on children homes.org website. 

17 Ardilaun Rd, N1

36 Angle Ways, Leaves Spring, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Ashbrooke,103 Park Avenue, Enfield, Middlesex

36 Ashley Road, N8

Beechholme, Fir Tree Road, Banstead, Surrey (Islington and other Boroughs sent children here)

Berrydale, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Colgrain, 1 Dukes Avenue, Muswell Hill, N10 2PS

2 and 158 Collins Meadow, Hare Street, Harlow, Essex

14 Conewood Street / Park Place, Islington, N5 1DL

Copthorne, 16-18 Village Rd, Enfield, Middlesex

Dixton, Hadley Common, Barnet, EN5 5QG

Easneye, Ware, Herts

1 and 3 Elwood Street, Islington N5 1EB

Gisburne House, 95 Gammons Lane, Watford, Hertfordshire

Gorsefield House, Stanstead, Essex

114 Grosvenor Avenue, Islington, N5 2NY

60 Hare Street Springs, Hare Street, Harlow, Essex

11-12 Highbury Crescent, Islington, N5 1RU

18 Highbury Grove, Islington N5 1HJ (known as the hostel)

29 Highbury New Park, Islington, N5 2EN

80 Highbury New Park, Islington N5 2DJ

Holmleigh, 35 Solna Road, Winchmore Hill, N21

Hutton Poplars, Essex (Islington and other Boroughs sent children here)

66 Hydeon Way, Leaves Spring, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

44 Islington Park Street, Islington, N1 1PX

Langley House, South Ockenden, Hertfordshire

75a Mildmay Park, Islington, N1 4NB – (known as Mac’s Hostel)

Mildmay Park hostel across the road from Mildmay Park

17 and 28 The Muntings, Leaves Spring, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

New Park House, 1 Hanyards Lane, Cuffley, Hertfordshire

26-28 Northampton Park, Islington, N1 2PJ

13 and 342 Northbrooks, Hare Street, Harlow, Essex

Oak Lodge, 32 Alexandra Rd, Wood Green, N8 0PN

26 and 39 Peartree Way, Leaves Spring, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

56 Rycroft, Hare Street, Harlow, Essex

11 Sheringham Road, Islington N7

South Ockendon (3 homes: 59 Humber Ave, next door and further up the road)

The Beeches, Suffolk (Islington and other Boroughs sent children here)

The Village, Village Road, Enfield, Middlesex

13 Torrington Park, Enfield, Middlesex

Widbury House, Ware, Herts

How many children were in the care of Islington council?

ISN have been informed by the council that Islington has no record of the children who were in their care. No ‘register’ was kept. In contrast, Lambeth did keep a register and so the numbers are known for that Borough. Islington council has asked for the assistance of ISN in reaching an estimate of the numbers in the care system throughout the years. ISN initially have collated this information from statistics available in the council minutes.

ISN have also asked survivors to provide ISN with estimates of the numbers that were in the children’s homes and foster placements which they were in and will provide these statistics at a later date with our individual reports on the homes.

Songs of Gisburne House and New Park House, Hertfordshire

ISN will be writing specific reports on children’s homes based on the timelines of ISN survivors and their evidence. ISN have had contact with over 30 survivors of Gisburne House and 10 from New Park House. The similarity of words in these two songs is remarkable.

“I had a magic fever
I had it very  bad, bad, bad,
they wrapped me in a blanket
and threw me in a van, van, van,
the van was very bumpy
I nearly tumbled out, out, out,
and when I got to New Park House
I heard the children shout,
Mummy Daddy take me home
from this horrible children’s home
I’ve been here a year or two
now they are abusing me and you!”

Islington Survivor of New Park House 2018

I know a children’s home down Gammons Lane
where we get beaten up 10 times a day.
Egg and bacon we don’t see
We get sawdust in our tea,
that’s why we’re gradually fading away.
6’o’clock in the morning you hear Jonesy shout
‘Get out of bed, get out of bed before you get a clout’.
 
I caught the scarlet fever, I caught it very bad,
they wrapped me in a blanket and threw me in the van
The van was very bumpy and I nearly tumbled out
when I got back to Gisburne House I heard the kids all shout
‘Mummy daddy take me home from this fucked up children’s home
I’ve been here for a week or two and they make me scrub the loo.
No more English, no more French no more sitting on the old school bench
and if us kids don’t agree they put us in the lavatory.
 
Come to Gisburne
Come to Gisburne
It’s a place of misery
There’s a notice in the doorway
Saying ‘ Welcome it’s a treat’.
Take no notice
Take no notice
It’s a load of bloody lies
If it wasn’t for Jonesey
It would be a paradise
 
Build a bomfire
Build a bomfire
Put Jonesey on the top”

Islington Survivors of Gisburne House 2018

Evening Standard 6.10.92

Morgan Review: Terms of Reference – ISN Response

In the Review Sarah Morgan QC often refers to the Terms of Reference (‘ToR’). She expressed dismay at ISN survivors not understanding the ToR as she had interpreted them and went on to break her own rules of engagement. Below, ISN list each ToR and comment on Morgan QC’s conclusions.

Terms of Reference: To investigate the evidence as to:

1.A The nature, extent and duration of Sandy Marks’ involvement in Fallen Angels and any other pro-paedophile groups.

Morgan QC Conclusion to 1.A Terms of Reference:

“I have concluded that Sandy Marks was involved with the pro-paedophile group Fallen Angels and associated with them, attended in April 1980 a conference of the International Gay Association. As to duration, the earliest association I have found of Sandy Marks with any pro-paedophile group or issue is September 1979 and the latest July 1980.”


Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.3

ISN comment on Morgan’s 1.A Conclusion:

The research by Charlotte Russell (ISN), which was further investigated by the Islington Gazette, was commended by Richard Watts Council Leader in September 2017. Morgan QC confirmed what ISN already knew, that the information Islington Gazette based its articles on concerning Sandy Marks was accurate and well evidenced.

ISN’s research focus began with looking into how influential the Paedophile Information Exchange was in Islington, due to the known number of PIE meetings and members resident in the area. Sandy Mark’s involvement in pro-paedophile groups was part of a much bigger picture. This will be explored in future reports. This story leads in varied directions with regard to what has become known as PIE Central.  ISN survivors’ accounts can be better understood when we explore what is known about the adults who abused them, their beliefs about paedophilia and the networks they were part of. Islington Council’s failings can also be better understood in the context of a local atmosphere of intense politicisation of paedophilia and the emergence of a movement for ‘paedophile pride’.

Two additional pieces of information Morgan QC uncovered were relevant to evidencing Sandy Marks’ involvement with Fallen Angels and demonstrated that her involvement extended beyond solely attending the Conference to also presenting at the Women’s Caucus at a Sunday workshop at the conference. ISN were unaware that Ms Marks was still awaiting contact from international pro-paedophile activists to provide support for the PIE defendants in July 1980 at the work address she had given for Islington Community Housing (ICH).

A more major revelation of Morgan QC’s Review concerns the role of the Social Services Inspectorate in 1993. While the Department of Health’s junior minister John Bowis MP had been assured by SSI that there was no point in any further investigation into allegations of network abuse in one local area, only shortly before the Deputy Chief Inspector had in communication with Liz Davies’ lawyer made reference to a planned inspection by SSI. See further Report #4.

1.B What, if any, impact that involvement had on the way she carried out her duties on the Social Services Committee, whether as a Committee member between 1983 and 1991 or as Chair between 1991 and 1995.

Morgan QC Conclusion to 1.B Terms of Reference:

“I have found no evidence that her involvement had any impact on the way she carried out her duties on the Social Services Committee or any other Islington Committee on which she sat whether as member or chair. The incongruence between this conclusion and the one set out in Para 2.3.above is something I reflect on at the end of this report.”


Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.4

ISN comment on Morgan’s 1.B Conclusion:

A key question is how Sandy Marks became so powerful on the various council committees responding to children’s policy and practice. Other politicians were aware of her pro-paedophile views and had known her from the outset of her political career in the mid-1970s prior to her election to Islington council.

Morgan QC failed to note in her career chronology for Marks that during the key period of 1982-1995 (from Marks’ first election in May 1982 to the publication of the White Inquiry mid-1995) Marks is the only continuous member of the Social Services Committee and Case Review Sub-Committee for the entire 13 years. Throughout these critical years Marks had the potential breadth of perspective to see, hear and act on the protection of children.

Sarah Morgan QC describes Fallen Angels as a ‘group with an interest in sexual activity with children and a stated intention to bring forward a more permissive attitude to sexual activity with children‘ (Morgan QC Review 7.11.18: 1.10). This description is a gross and distasteful understatement. Morgan QC failed to acknowledge Fallen Angels were a politically motivated group campaigning to abolish the legal age of consent which would have enabled freedom for adults to sexually assault children and would have breached children’s rights to safety. Morgan QC glossed over the Fallen Angels specific criticisms of child protection as a “racket” and their contempt for the National Children’s Bureau (NCB). Both of these Fallen Angels criticisms’ contrast sharply with Marks’ concern to join the council committees where child protection was of paramount consideration and her later directorship of the NCB during the mid 1990s. The concern remains that Marks may have moved into local Islington politics in order to promote an agenda that encompassed her personal and political views on children’s rights to sexual activity with adults. Marks’ use of her work address at Islington Community Housing is indicative of an inability to separate work from her campaigning life. It is very unlikely that Sandy Marks would have been explicit to council members about her views.

Therefore, an examination of documentation alone as Morgan QC has done, with no interviews of fellow Social Services Committee or Case-Review Sub-Committee members or even, any other councillors (as with the White Inquiry) in our view could not realistically hope to provide the answer to this Term of Reference. As with White, Morgan QC has placed Marks’ sole evidence as central to her conclusions with very little interrogation, corroboration or investigation of Marks’ assertions in interview and statements. 

Morgan QC should have considered survivor accounts in her response. For instance, if she had spoken with Demetrious Panton, who emailed the Review,  she would have gained insight into which politicians knew about his abuse by Bernard Leo Bains manager of Elwood Street children’s home and who these politicians would most probably have reported to. ISN advised Sarah Morgan’s researcher of where the press coverage about Demetrious Panton was to be found as his account is a matter of public record.

Sandy Marks (Evening Standard 8.10.92), in response to allegations of a ‘cover up’ by the council about the abuse scandal, made derogatory, blaming comments about the child victims of abuse saying, ‘It is as if the kids who come into our homes turn from well behaved little angels to prostitutes who use drugs and get drunk every night.’ This comment was essentially a denial of the abuse occurring in the care system by placing the blame on the child’s prior experiences in their families and refusing to consider residential staff as potentially responsible.

Islington Gazette 8.10.92

‘Blaming the victim’ is a classic strategy used to divert attention from abusers – but also many children came into care as a result of the death or illness of parents and had not experienced abuse in their families. A similar view, also cited in the same article, was expressed by Lyn Cusack, Assistant Director of Social Services, ‘A large amount of children who come into our care already have drink or drugs problems and gross emotional disturbance.’

This ‘blaming the children’ approach was then repeated by Martin Higgins, Director of Neighbourhood Services in an internal newsletter to all his staff  on 10.3.93 using very similar language.

“It’s important to put these things in context too. The young people living in our homes are not angels. Many have had a hard time, it’s understandable that there are problems with violence and drugs.”

Islington Newsletter: Martin Higgins Director of Neighbourhood Services 10.3.93

Did Marks’ views influence Cusack and Higgins or did Cusack influence Marks? This was an important question for Morgan QC to ask Marks and others before jumping to conclusions that Sandy Marks’ views had no influence on her work as an Islington councillor.

Given the obvious influence of Marks’ analysis on social service management, did Morgan QC think to question the terminology used and its possible ideological links between “no angels” and “fallen angels”?

Islington Newsletter: Martin Higgins Director of Neighbourhood Services 10.3.93

1.C What Ms Marks knew about the ‘state of management’ of Islington Social Services Department (as it is referred to in the White Report), including in particular whether she had been aware of any abuse allegations prior to the Evening Standard’s story in 1992.

Morgan QC Conclusion to 1.C Terms of Reference:

“I have concluded that Ms Marks knew of the state of management of the Islington Social Services department and that she was aware of abuse allegations prior to the Evening Standard story in 1992. In this respect my conclusion is that she had no different knowledge than that which was or ought to have been known to other members of the committees and sub committees of which she was a member and/or chair.”


Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.5

ISN comment on Morgan’s 1.C Conclusion:

ISN assert that “any abuse allegations prior to the Evening Standard’s story in 1992” must by definition include ‘organised abuse’ as stated in statutory guidance, (Home Office, Dept of Health, Dept of Education and Science (1991) Working Together under the Children Act 1989: A Guide to arrangements for inter-agency cooperation for the protection of children from abuse).

On the one hand, Morgan QC concluded that Ms Marks was aware of abuse allegations made prior to 1992 in the Evening Standard and yet Morgan later also concluded that there was no ‘organised abuse.’ Many of the Evening Standard allegations involved organised abuse. Interestingly, Morgan QC quoted the Case Review Sub-Committee minutes of March 1992 (Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:15.11(b)) which reveal at least one case of organised abuse that she then failed to recognise as such. As Chair of that Committee, Marks would of course have been aware of that case as reported in the minutes.

Morgan QC failed to interrogate fellow committee and sub-committee members in interview, leaving Marks as the sole standard setter for what was deemed acceptable in the delivery of children’s services.

ISN, in analysing committee membership, are concerned that Ms Marks was not alone in her pro-paedophile views and that during April 1982, one month prior to election, at least one other Councillor on the Case Review Sub-Committee (6 members; quorate at 2) had been a committee member of several campaigning groups advocating for the decriminalisation of paedophilia and the abolition of the age of consent.

In not naming the other members of the committees and failing to interview them, Morgan QC makes it impossible to reach any conclusion on how far individual committee members’ views reported in minutes were influenced by Ms Marks or vice versa. It is therefore unclear whether Morgan QC was right to ignore whether other committee members were supportive of pro-paedophile rights, or to conclude that Ms Marks was not privy to any ‘different knowledge’ from that of fellow committee members.

As a member and/or Chair of other committees concerned with child welfare in Islington, and as a representative of Islington at a regional level, Marks certainly had different knowledge from that of other councillors. Morgan QC only had sight of Case Review Sub Committee minutes from 1986 onwards. As Ms Marks served on that committee from 1982 and was Chair from 1985, the earlier content of high relevance was omitted.

Morgan QC Conclusion to 1.D Terms of Reference:

1.D Whether in her dealings with Fallen Angels, and possibly other paedophile groups, Ms Marks had become aware of anything relevant to the allegations of ‘organised abuse’ that were the subject of the White Report.

“I have found no evidence that in her dealings with Fallen Angels Ms Marks became aware of anything relevant to the allegations of ‘organised abuse’ that were the subject of the White Report.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.6

“It is appropriate to recognise that if there were, as a number of contributers have communicated their belief that there was, a network of those sexually abusing, seeking or facilitating the sexual abuse of children across London and nationally it may well not be detectable in archive documents such as those I have been examining for the purpose of this Review. What I have been looking for in order to conduct this Review is any evidence that indicated to me that Sandy Marks was involved or engaged in anything of that sort. I have not found any evidence of that.”

“If there are those who continue to believe that there is evidence of organised abuse which has not been investigated and which relates not necessarily to Sandy Marks but to others, then those are matters properly to be referred to the police and to IICSA.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18: 16.23/24

ISN comment on Morgan’s 1.D Conclusion:

Here, Morgan QC made the astonishing decision that Ms Marks’ knowledge of the Fallen Angels’ motion (proposed and carried at the Conference in April 1980 which Marks was photographed attending) – namely that an all-male staffed creche be provided by the Fallen Angels and others at the next International Gay Association Conference — bears no relation to what Ms Marks could have known of organised abuse prior to the Evening Standard reports in 1992 and her knowledge of organised abuse generally. This also ignores Marks’ access to excellent knowledge through the pan-London work of the London Boroughs Children’s Regional Planning Committee (LBCRPC) and their project to combat “child sex rings” in 1989-1991. See Report #5

At the very least, it can be said categorically that Ms Marks knew that two or more paedophiles resident in Islington (her fellow Fallen Angels), were willing to offer free or low-cost childcare in order to access children, a pattern of behaviour which exposed children to the risk of abuse.

Although Morgan QC dismissed the existence of the Paedophile Information Exchange as a “belief that there was, a network of those sexually abusing, seeking or facilitating the sexual abuse of children across London and nationally,” and referenced individuals who point to the number of convictions members of PIE involved in networks of child abuse over the years as “believers“, it is hard to see what Morgan QC remained to be convinced of about the existence of PIE or its organised networks of abuse.

Although the existence of networks of abuse “may well not be detectable in archive documents such as those I have been examining for the purpose of this Review” Morgan QC was given references and the location of the archives of PIE at the London School of Economics by ISN.

 And

  1. Consider what difference, if any, the evidence in 1 above may have made to the White Report.

“In the light of the conclusions I have reached as to 1A to 1D of the Terms of Reference, I have concluded that, whilst it is not possible to say what difference knowledge of the evidence may have made to the White Report, it would have made a difference to the Inquiry… the questions contained in the Terms of Reference to which I have worked would have become questions for the authors of the White Report.”


Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.6

Disappointingly Morgan QC is ultimately inconclusive in her overall response as to whether White’s knowledge of Marks’ involvement with pro-paedophile rights groups impacted on the integrity of the White Inquiry. The question is not whether it WOULD have made a difference to White but whether it SHOULD have made a difference. Professionals of White and Hart’s experience should have picked up on the numerous indicators of local organised child sexual exploitation which were identifiable through evidence of children’s protests, reports of Islington’s social workers, police investigations, press coverage of Islington council employees exploiting children in their care, PIE’s AGMs and meetings held in Islington, archive material at LSE of PIE and NCCL minutes available since 1984, Case Review Sub-Committee minutes such as those Morgan QC cited, and broadcast interviews with witnesses, victims, and Councillor Sandy Marks. This was without considering the extensive volume of information provided in the Evening Standard’s dossier and that of Dr Liz Davies. These issues will all be followed up in subsequent reports.

Conflicts of Interest: The former Children’s Home worker provided as the Council’s Inquiry Researcher

During May – August 2017, ISN raised concerns over James Goudie QC’s conflict of interest due to his acting for Lambeth Council in the redress scheme for Shirley Oaks Survivors Association

Islington Council responded by truncating Goudie QC’s original remit, drawing it to a close. Later when appointing researchers to gather and collate documents for the second QC to take over the inquiry into Sandy Marks the council appointed someone who had previously worked in an in-borough children’s home during the 1970s. ISN flagged this as a potential conflict of interest. The council removed her from the research team. There is no suggestion that the former children’s home’s worker was in any way implicated in wrong-doing or abuse.

It’s important to note that residential care workers have contacted ISN from all over the world and have provided positive input with providing much-cherished photos of children whose childhood records are scant. Often, when files bear little information to confirm a placement in a particular home, corroboration of a child’s placement can be gleaned through photos and witness accounts.

Morgan QC Review, 7.11.18: 3.18

The majority of the press reports referred to as ‘illegible’ would mainly have come from SpotlightOnAbuse website where all images can be easily enlarged. It was these articles which mainly captured Ms Marks response to the Evening Standard exposé in the immediate aftermath which was so demeaning of child victims of abuse. These comments were widely publicised because it was Ms Marks who attended Press Conferences to represent the council as Social Services Committee Chair and read aloud Council press releases.

ISN challenge Morgan’s view that Marks’ derogatory comments about child victims were ‘commonly accepted’ and not ‘alarming at the time’

These comments display what has been termed in other inquiries (Alexis Jay inquiry Rotherham, IICSA Nottingham) as ‘victim blaming’ in the sense that Ms Marks repeatedly during 6 – 22 October 1992 insisted that children in care who were being sexually exploited by adults were making an informed choice. For a thorough analysis of ‘Stigmatised young people” labelled as ‘ prostitutes’ and ‘rent boys’, see Nelson S (2016) Tackling Child Sexual Abuse : Radical approaches to prevention, protection and support. Bristol. Policy Press. Ch.4.

When Sandy Marks was asked about her statements to the press she explained to Sarah Morgan QC that “this was how people spoke back then: anyone would have used the term without it raising comment. I continued to be troubled by it – but as I read on I found that it was indeed widely used.”

In fact, as ISN present in Report #5, Islington Council, in 1988, had implemented progressive child protection policy and practice guidance and this was soon ratified by all agencies on the the Islington Area Child Protection Committee. Kate Hart was perhaps not aware of how Islington Council was leading the way on child sexual abuse policy, being well informed and guided by the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit based in Islington at the North London Polytechnic.

Also, Sandy Marks, whilst Chair of the London Boroughs Childrens Regional Planning Committee, was overseeing a London-wide policy on ‘child sex rings’. If the terminology was in common usage at the time, and indeed continued to be in fairly general usage to the present day, it was never acceptable practice for informed professionals and those with responsibility for the corporate care of children. On the contrary, Marks was surely in a position where she was one of the best informed London councillors on the subject of child sexual exploitation.

A non-sequitur

As will be seen in Ms Morgan QC’s assessment of the muted response of the Case Review Sub-Committee to ‘shocking’ reports of child abuse, the test for whether Ms Marks behaviour or conduct was caused by her previous pro-paedophile politicking was whether anyone else around her had behaved differently. Within the council and at regional level a number of other people working alongside Sandy Marks were acting very differently from her – they were writing and speaking about protecting children from abuse.

It appears that by suggesting that the Council as a whole shared the view that children in care ‘prostituted’ themselves and that victims of child abuse in Islington’s care were responsible for their own sexual exploitation then this approach allowed the conclusion to be drawn that Marks’ comments to the press, it would seem, could not have been motivated by her previous political beliefs that children should be free to have sexual relations with adults.

Whatever the language used, the key point is very clear that Marks’ comments were derogatory and condemning of the children she had the duty to protect.

To be continued …..

Report #2: The Background to ISN’s Response to Morgan QC – The 1990s onwards

 

 

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