This report (Report #2) is the second 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.
To present a background to ISN’s response, this second report includes sections of Liz Davies’s interview with and report to Sarah Morgan QC. Some redactions have been made for confidentiality reasons.
Islington kids’ homes abuse scandal: Whistleblower Dr Liz Davies gets an apology from the council…after 25 years
“Social worker Dr Liz Davies told Cllr Richard Watts she had never set foot inside the council’s HQ before, a fact that visibly surprised him.
“When I raised the issues during the ’90s, as did the police, we clearly gave evidence about organised abuse networks within the borough. “All my work was completely rubbished [by] Ian White’s report. I was given no validation.”
“We are in a different place from where we were in the ’90s,” she conceded. “I just want to put it for the record that we are not going to stop. We are here for however long it takes. We want to see abusers convicted, and those who colluded removed from positions of influence. Some of them are now in very powerful, responsible positions.”
Cllr Watts responded: “Sorry to you on behalf of the council for the way in which the allegations you raised were handled. That’s part of the council’s failure historically.”Islington Gazette 28.9.17
Dr Liz Davies – Islington senior social worker 1986-1992
In 1991 Dr Peter Loader, consultant child psychiatrist working with families from the Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office area, wrote to senior managers John Goldup and Lyn Cusack outlining his concerns about child sexual abuse in the locality.
‘I told Liz Davies either she was mad or everything she said was true and I had no reason to believe either she or Dr [redacted] (paediatrician) were mad’.
Dr Peter Loader Consultant Child Psychiatrist 11.12.91
2.1. I was employed in Islington for a few months in 1973 and later from 1986 until March 1992. In 1986, I was a social worker in Rosedale Neighbourhood Office and later a senior social worker in two other offices (Clocktower and Beaumont Rise). I worked in Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office (IWNO) from 1989 as a senior social worker. I began exposing the organised abuse of children in late 1989 and early 1990 culminating in my report to the Irene Watson Neighbourhood Forum in April 1990 when I reported to local councillor Margaret Hodge. This report has already been submitted to this Review and concerned my observations of the sexual exploitation of children in the area. Margaret Hodge’s response on 24.4.90 was a memo to the Director of Social Services, John Rea Price, complaining about the report. [Liz Davies interview 30.6.03]
2.2. My manager in Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office was the Neighbourhood Officer Social Services (NOSS) David Cofie, who supported me throughout in exposing the crime networks. The office was managed by 2 Neighbourhood Officers … Both were supportive of David Cofie and my work to protect children. I supervised 5 social workers, the work was generic and I was also an Approved Social Worker under mental health legislation. Our team covered a small patch of streets between Holloway Road and Hornsey Road and it was a shop front. The office was open plan and co-located with Housing, Environmental Health services and a payment counter for receiving rents. The office was highly accessible for the children and their families and we prioritised our response to them practising a community based approach. Peter Pan park was situated behind the office and this was where children were gathered at night. We often interviewed children in Piccolo Café round the corner because there was so little interview space in the office (Harris P and Bright M (2003) The Whistleblowers Story: Observer 6.7.03).Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
3. Reporting concerns about child sexual exploitation
3.1. I wrote a total of 15 reports within social services. I profiled alleged and known abusers and child victims. These reports were sent to John Rea Price (Director of Social Services), and Lyn Cusack (Assistant Director of Social Services).They also were sent to Sara Noakes (Child Protection Co-ordinator) and to John Goldup (Divisional Policy Manager Children and Families). The Islington Police Child Protection Team (IPCPT) were fully supportive of me but those of us investigating, both police and social workers, were firmly told by our managers in May 1990 to stop all interviews with children, to stop convening child protection conferences and conclude all investigations.
3.2. I made an agreement with the police to continue the work covertly and, together with our local colleagues from other agencies, we also convened a number of child protection conferences on one day before anyone could stop us. I wondered why out of 200 social workers employed at that time I was only one of 3 who noticed something was deeply wrong for the children in Islington’s care (Fairweather in Hunt 1998).
Eileen Fairweather’s chapter ‘Exposing the Islington children’s home scandal: A journalist’s view’ in Hunt G (1998) Whistleblowing in the social services detailed her role in the media coverage working alongside a number of professionals including Liz Davies, a professional relationship which continued over 20 years.
“Without investigative journalism and persistent media coverage, the Islington perpetrators would not have been identified and the exploitation of children in care would have continued.. Fairweather wrote a dossier of evidence which was presented to the police and Department of Health and with Evening Standard journalist Stewart Payne won Press Awards of the year for their work. There were attempts to discredit them when politicians suggested the journalists had paid children for interviews but these were not upheld by the Press Commission.”Davies L (2014) Working positively with the media to protect children. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 36.1.p52
“Many of those involved with exposing Islington believe that at some level a conspiracy existed to protect the paedophiles who infiltrated its child care system. How deep that went, and why, will probably never be proven. A few people undoubtedly covered up because they too were paedophiles or had other ‘skeletons in the cupboard’. However, I suspect that most of those who were covering up just wanted to shield their professional or political careers and their pensions.”Fairweather E (1998) Exposing the Islington children’s homes scandal: a journalists view in Hunt G (1998) Whistleblowing in the social services. London: Hodder p21
“Working as a freelance journalist, Fairweather learnt that social workers in Islington wanted to ‘blow the whistle’ on child sexual abuse in children’s homes. The reports appeared in the London Evening Standard. Fairweather describes how the stories were initially dismissed as ‘gutter journalism’ and ‘ sensationalist’ but the newspaper persisted, ‘provoking 14 government ordered inquiries, the forced resignations of Islington’s social services directors, numerous reforms and apologies by the council to young people abused in its care and a major police inquiry.”Fairweather E (1998) cited in Goddard and Saunders (2001) Child abuse and the media. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies
Islington police worked with me 100% very well. The Islington police worked with the Obscene Publications team 100% very well. So a lot of information was going from the police in Islington to the police at Scotland Yard. The police in Islington trusted me and respected my work and they knew the dynamics that were going on in Islington at the time and where they were blocked and where they couldn’t pursue inquiries. Where they were not getting files they asked for. Why they weren’t getting the HR files they needed – all those sort of things. So I was asked to be as helpful as I could be.Dr Liz Davies interview transcript with Sarah Morgan QC 7.3.18
8. Reporting concerns to Scotland Yard and involvement of journalist
8.1. When I left the authority in 1992 I went to see Superintendent Michael Hames at Scotland Yard Obscene Publications Team and reported all the crimes that concerned me. He told me that he knew of this very extensive Islington paedophile ring which was later reported in the Sunday Times (Palmer 1993). He also managed the Ritual Abuse Investigation team and the DCI I was working with had already informed them of the IWNO case. The Islington case became one of 40 such cases across the country listed in a research document now kept in the Scotland Yard library. I understand this file is only accessible to senior officers. On 10.2.94 a written parliamentary question (no 178) was asked by David Alton MP as to when this police research would be made public and the Ministerial response on 15.2.94 was that it would be at the discretion of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. This response proved the research existed and Hames referred to it in his autobiography (Hames M (2000) The Dirty Squad. London. Little Brown).
8.2. A freelance journalist, took the story to the Evening Standard where Stewart Steven the Editor gave his personal commitment to continue the story until ‘every child in Islington was safe’. He understood the issues. When Margaret Hodge became Minister for Children in 2003 he wrote that his ‘blood ran cold’ (Steven S (2003) The disgrace of Mrs Hodge. Evening Standard 6th June).
8.3. Superintendent Michael Hames taught me how to refer information to his team and I still have copies of my reports which are a rather chaotic series of typed notes. Some of the information in these is unreliable and yet much of it has later been confirmed. I recently refused to give it to police for professional reasons because, unless they worked with me in the analysis of the contents, misinterpretation could lead to poor decision making. I asked to be respected as a co-professional and Operation Winter Key worked with me in 2017 for one afternoon charting up names of abusers. We listed 26 names as a basis for discussion and then nothing more happened. Suffice it to say not all the alleged and known abusers are dead. I do not know if some abusers are alive despite many efforts to establish the facts…. Police recently informed me that a Manager of Grosvenor Avenue children’s home, died in 1999. I do not understand why the police cannot check the facts before taking a survivor’s statement. I, and others, have continued reporting this abuser to police over the last 18 years so it would seem that checks were not made throughout all that time.
8.4. The Islington press coverage is listed on my website. My archive of Islington press cuttings is on the website https://spotlightonabuse.wordpress.com. Eileen Fairweather and Stewart Payne, journalists, wrote a detailed dossier of evidence over 100 pages, which was submitted to police, Department of Health and the council in the 90s.
I have some pages of this. This dossier addressed every case which was publicised in the Evening Standard.
Although I had left the authority, I continued to work with Scotland Yard in liaising with social workers and police in other parts of the country where my knowledge of the Islington network was relevant to other investigations. Some of these investigations involved PIE members.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
8.6. One of my investigations included the Suffolk Project where thousands of Islington children were taken on holiday to the property of Baron Henniker at ‘Thornham Magna’ in Eye, Suffolk. Peter Righton, PIE member, lived on the estate after he had been convicted in 1992 of possession of abusive images of children and a visit was made by Suffolk professionals to Baron Henniker to ask Righton to leave the estate, but this was refused.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
In Report #10 concerning Pro-Paedophile Activism in 1970s and 1980s Islington and focusing on Peter Righton and PIE, ISN will detail the Council’s funding decisions to subsidise sending Islington children for long weekends camping to the Islington Suffolk Project where PIE member #51 Peter Righton was living.
8.7. I worked closely with a joint police and social work team in Hereford and Worcester, which investigated Righton and his associates. I also later investigated New Barns school in Gloucester where Righton was a governor and where the school was closed down. I have learnt of an Islington survivor who was sent to that school and staff who visited there from Islington.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
8.8. I also spoke with a survivor who had been sexually assaulted whilst adopted…. I sent a report on this to the relevant police force with her agreement in 2016 after many years of email only contact but there was such a delay by police and lack of response that she had died meanwhile and the case has never been investigated. This report was also sent to Islington police and to Operation Winter Key [the Metropolitan Police response to the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse -IICSA].Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
9. The 90’s Inquiries
9.1. I was represented by a lawyer from BASW (British Association of Social Workers), for the McAndrew/ Cassam inquiry in 1993 and gave evidence for 4 hours including drawing detailed maps of the networks on lining paper over the inquiry walls. I did not see the resulting report until last year when someone obtained it from Islington through FOI. ….Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
9.2. On 13.8.93 a letter was sent by my lawyer to Sandy Marks and it stated that my submission was enclosed but that my substantial statement (100 pages) had been given to Emlyn Cassam and Brian McAndrew. This statement was also sent to the Department of Health and Metropolitan Police. The letter has been made available to the Review. BASW also had a copy of the statement but none of these copies now exist. My lawyer lost my entire archive of evidence in 2003 when Margaret Hodge was made Minister for Children. Survivors asked for my help in opposing her appointment and I asked my lawyer to assist the survivors’ lawyers. I then learnt about the loss of my documentation. I do hope that this document will be located in the course of this Review – in which case I would value a copy. This is just one example of information which has gone missing.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
My hope was that you’d find that [my statement of 100 pages] and I’d get a copy because I don’t have a copy… I did Freedom of Information to the Met police – nothing there. It went to the Department of Health , nothing there. I had it with my lawyer, what should be safer than that? The law firm lost everything in 2003. Its been a long story but I remember every bit of it. The main loss was my whole archive of evidence .. it would have filled a quarter of this room. It was beautifully organised. So what I was left with was my original notebooks and things like that, so now I’ve had to recompile things from the beginning onwards.Dr Liz Davies interview transcript with Sarah Morgan QC 7.3.18
9.3. Ian White asked me to speak with him and Kate Hart off record which I did. I remember going to Oxford and he asked me if I thought the abuse in Islington was a case of ‘incompetence or corruption’. I had no representation and have no recollection now of why I agreed to see him on this basis. Perhaps by then I was very frightened and optimistically hoped that he was sympathetic. I met him once, after that meeting, at the House of Commons and he told me he had not interviewed Margaret Hodge. I do not know who he interviewed or who he decided was unsuitable to work with children.
9.4. Ian White, in his report, did not accept my findings about the sexual exploitation of children including in the context of ritual abuse. I elaborated on this fully in my response to the council regarding the Goudie report.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
He [Ian White] definately asked me if I would speak to him off record…He [White] does refer about me [in his report] but nothing as a result of speaking with me. Everything was discredited. Absolutely everything… I think I agreed because I was frightened. By that stage I was really frightened. .. there’d been death threats…my address was flagged [with the police].. it was a really difficult time. So I, looking back, I was quite terrified. .. I just was remembering that obviously I was in the thick of all sorts at the time and a number of people were telling me how they’d also been severely threatened.. One residential worker told me he’d been threatened with having his legs broken.. .. the whole atmosphere was of fear.. he was was telling us things that had been going on in one of the homes. Then he experienced this very severe threat. This was by no means the only thing.Dr Liz Davies interview transcript with Sarah Morgan QC 7.3.18
“The identities of the whistleblowers were well protected by both the media and the police for their safety. The Evening Standard journalists had told the author [Liz Davies] of serious threats aimed at the social workers, journalists, residential workers and foster carers involved in the exposé.”
Davies L (2014) Working positively with the media to protect children, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 36:1, p52
Kate Hart told Morgan that she said to her knowledge there had been no off record interviews in the White Inquiry (Morgan Review: 13.3). Morgan refers to the archived papers from the White Inquiry not being found for the Review. Without the archive, obviously any transcript of Liz Davies’s off record interview could not be located but she remembers clearly Kate Hart being present with Ian White during the off record interview and she has it recorded in her diary in 1995.
12. After leaving Islington’s employment
12.1. I left Islington to become Child Protection Manager and Trainer in another London Borough. [Whilst in this post I was not able to speak publicly about my experiences in Islington].
I took the Borough lead in a number of complex organised abuse investigations. I became respected for training the police in visually recorded interviewing and S47 investigations (Children Act 1989) (which I did for 15 years) and co-authored books on this subject with police trainers. When I gained a senior lecturer post at London Metropolitan University in 2002, I was finally free to speak out and this time coincided with the appointment of Margaret Hodge as Children’s Minister. From this point I engaged with the media in trying to gain attention to the issues which remain unaddressed to this day.
12.4 I became more aware and knowledgeable of PIE and associated organisations, their tentacles and influence. I learnt about Keith Harding, secretary of PIE, membership number 329, who had a shop in Hornsey road not far from my office (I spoke on the Today programme on 2.1.15 about this) and that PIE held meetings at this shop where politicians and others attended. I learnt about Roger Moody, self-professed pro-paedophile activist and author of book ‘Indecent Assault’ , who worked on the Islington playgrounds and was the Editor of Peace News based in Caledonian Road. I learnt about Morris Fraser, child psychiatrist in Belfast, Northern Ireland who after convictions for offences against children, lived in Islington in 1990 and worked at University College Hospital. Of course there was also Fraser’s co-author Peter Righton PIE member number 51, and leading social work guru, who taught at North London polytechnic in 1970 and wrote in the pro-paedophile treatise “Perpectives on Paedophilia’ (Taylor 1981). He spoke to Islington social worker Anne Goldie about his ‘love’ of boys (BBC 94).
12.5 It should be noted that Righton was influential with social workers. For instance the Chair of BASW at the time, Chris Andrews, spoke of Righton’s respectablity in the media after Righton’s arrest….. After the PIE trial in the 80s, Righton was influential in establishing groups for gay and lesbian young people. Some were based in Islington and survivors mention being sent to these groups.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
There are a number of social work texts [such as ‘Sex and the Social Worker’ by Len Davis published in 1983], which restated Righton’s views that,
‘chronological age by itself is both arbitrary and misleading as an indication of a person’s need to be protected from adult sexual advances’ and,Davis L (1983) Sex and the Social Worker p8 citing Righton P (1981) Perspectives on Paedophilia p.242
‘provided there is no question of exploitation, sexual relationships freely entered into by residents – including adolescents – should not be a matter for automatic enquiry, nor should a sexual relationship between a resident and a worker be grounds for automatic dismissal.’Davis L (1983) Sex and the Social Worker p79 citing Righton P (1977) Sex and the residential social worker. Social Work Today 15.2.77
14. Reporting concerns post 1995
14.1. Over the intervening years, and to this day, I have never stopped reporting these matters to police and social services. In July 2016, with survivors I set up Islington Survivors Network. I gained an Emeritus post at the University and dedicated my time and space, to helping the survivors gain justice and healing. ISN is now a Company and over 70 [now 160] survivors have come forward – more if siblings and friends from the care homes are included. I have also interviewed former staff who tried to raise the alarm.
14.3. New survivors are coming forward all the time. I have now learnt far more about the networks. However I have not managed to engage police and social services in a joint investigation of organised abuse. I am a registered social worker and could professionally inform such an investigation. I have deep concern about abusers who are still around presenting a serious risk to children. …
14.4. It seems to me that there is a very brief time frame for this important Review. I would hope that some of the senior level staff who have never been accountable will be interviewed and in particular those who hold current senior level posts in child care. I understand that there is no statutory basis to this Review and therefore no compulsion to attend an interview. However, there are questions which need answers and surely it will be of professional concern should someone not come forward for interview about such serious issues– a matter surely for the relevant regulatory body.
14.5. When the staff received my reports and my colleagues reports – to whom did they report?
Who wrote and who presented reports on the child abuse issues for the committees that Sandy Marks attended or was chair of?
Was Sandy Marks denied all knowledge of these most serious events? That hardly seems feasible, yet, like Margaret Hodge stated about herself, was Sandy Marks perhaps misinformed by her officers?
What is Marks’ understanding of the political dynamics of that era?
14.6. The one time I ever met John Rea Price he told me, on 1.2.2012 at a conference, that there could never be a book on the Islington scandal because of the politics that were at work which he said no one realised the enormity of.
15.Islington Survivors Network
15.1 Survivors have come forward from 23 [updated number is 48] Islington children’s homes. They speak of sexual, physical abuse, neglect and emotional abuse in children’s homes, foster placements, secure units and boarding schools. Many of the survivors I have met do not feel safe anywhere and are on constant alert. When someone walks in the corridor past my door they are startled. Most who tell me about the abuse are speaking about it for the very first time. They are amazed that I can understand what they are speaking about and their relief is visible because I usually know the names of the abusive staff, the abusive homes and many of the children they witnessed being abused.
15.2. It is clear that some children who were not in care were also targeted by the same abusers who worked in the homes via involvement in schools and youth groups. Also, visits to staff in their own homes was common place and led to further abuse. Anything these children did that fell within the norm of child centred activities –holidays, christmas visits, walks, work experience, swimming and sports trips, libraries, church attendance – for these children these situations were nothing but further exposure to abusive adults.
15.3. ISN survivors report visitors to the homes who abused them. Some came late at night and survivors refer to Cyril Smith, Jimmy Savile and other celebrities, and men in jaguars and rolls royces. An inquiry report into Jimmy Savile and his involvement with children’s homes included mention of Sheringham Road an Islington childrens home (Scott-Moncrieff 2015). I emailed the government contact for this report on 9.4.16 to seek clarification but received no response.
Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
15.3. The first meeting ISN had with Islington council was in May 2016. Since May 2016, I have referred a number of cases to Islington police prior to the involvement of Operation Winter Key in September 2017 whose officers took over the police lead from Islington and responded to survivors on a case by case basis. Operation Winter Key have interviewed some Islington survivors but their remit is sexual abuse within the London area so very few are within their remit. In relation to alleged and known perpetrators and possible criminal and/or protective action we have made very little progress. I will not agree to survivors being interviewed in each area where abuse took place (in some cases 6 authorities) or being interviewed by Winter Key regarding sexual abuse and by Islington or another police authority for other crimes such as physical abuse or neglect. The police response is fragmented and does not allow for intelligence to inform an organised abuse investigation across authorities and countries. I carry the burden of knowledge of many unresolved child protection cases where the abusers may still be targeting children.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
15.4. For 27 years I have struggled for the truth to come out about the abuse of Islington children. At every turn solid insurmountable brick walls have appeared. This does not have to be the case. I have fortunately had the experience of working in an authority where I was able to conduct large scale organised abuse investigations, achieve prosecutions and protect children working alongside trusted colleagues and with supportive management. I have had the privilege to work with dedicated professionals who moved mountains to protect children. The task seems huge but it can be done.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
15.5. The level of obstruction I have encountered [over the years but not currently] in Islington is extraordinary and the reason for this can only be a layer of politics which is way out of my league as a social work professional. In 1990 one experienced police officer told me ‘this goes right to the top – are you prepared to go all the way against all the opposition?’ I assured him that I would never give up trying to protect the children. If I’d known then what I know now, I may have given up as I’m not sure I would have coped. If it hadn’t been for the media I would have got nowhere. Each of the 14 Islington Inquiries followed media exposure just as this Review follows the article in theIslington Gazette about Sandy Marks. The response has always been reactive.
Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018
Sandy Marks: In 2014 Liz Davies asked for a dialogue
On 1st January 2014 Liz Davies emailed Sandy Marks in the hope of meeting her to discuss her views of events in the 90s.
Our paths once crossed at the Rising Free Bookshop a long time ago, but it is also a long time since I exposed the Islington child abuse scandal in 1992. I have, ever since, lived and breathed the ongoing issues which that raised. Even recently, various survivors have come forward to me and I have continued to learn about the vast extent of harm that they experienced. There has never been a survivors group in Islington for the victims of the abuse and so I still remain a contact point for those who come forward. I have been trying to assist some of them in locating their files but sadly it seems most files went missing at the time of the exposé in the early 90s. Recently, various documents have come to light through the social media and FOIs which I have not seen before. One of those was the Case review sub-committee report dated 24.7.95 following the Ian White Report. I think you may have chaired this committee – but I could be wrong.
I am interested to know what the thinking was that led to decision 4.1 which stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations of organised abuse. Of course, so much has become widely known since that time but I would really like to understand what led the members to reach that decision. I know the White report did mention that the police found no evidence of connections between perpetrators. Yet, at this time I was going all across the country with the police investigating crimes against children that related in some way to Islington children. Of course, professionals in all agencies at a local level had been pointing out that a network of child sex abusers was active in the Borough but this had been denied by the ACPC committee which is, I accept, where your information may have been coming from. Margaret Hodge always claimed she was misled by her managers and I have no way of knowing what went on at that level.
However, some social media researchers are now collating past press cuttings and I now know that, whilst I was disbelieved at the time in raising concerns about child sexual abuse within the children’s homes, it is now clear to me that there had been a number of issues raised in the years well before I worked in Islington. In fact the serious crimes were very well known about and a number of cases went to court and led to convictions.
In 1992, some people must have been surely laughing at my ignorance but we didn’t have the internet in those days and I had to work within my limited field of view and mainly respond to the interminable pain and terror of the child victims and their families. I was also forbidden from speaking with social workers in the other 23 offices which limited my ability to find out past histories of abuse……
I am writing a book but it is proving difficult as I am struggling to understand why my professional work was so despised at the time leaving me in great difficulty in trying to protect the children. Would you be interested to meet up to talk about it? It would be helpful for me to have your point of view all these years later when the scale of abuse clearly has now become evident and we have all had chance to reflect on the turbulence of those years.
LizEmail from Liz Davies to Sandy Marks on 1 January 2014
Morgan QC quotes Marks’ response to the Islington Gazette when first approached in May 2017 about what she did know:
Contrary to Ms Marks’ comments, Morgan QC concluded that Marks was aware of the allegations raised by the Evening Standard prior to their publication.