This report (Report #11) is the eleventh 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
Sandy Marks & her role on Islington Council
As former Islington Councillor Keith Veness explains,
“We believed the personal was political and that politics affected all aspects of our lives, not just working and voting.”Livingstone K (2012) You can’t say that. Memoirs. London. Faber and Faber
The lack of boundaries between Marks’ political views and her working life is most clearly demonstrated by the fact that as a 25/26 year old she gave her work address at Islington Community Housing expecting paedophiles and pro-paedophile rights activists to get in contact to assist with campaigning before the PIE trial.
The fact that the envelope had to be marked Private showed that there was some thought applied by Marks as to whether she wanted work colleagues to know she was campaigning for paedophile rights.
The question for Morgan QC to explore was whether by her 28th birthday, just under 2 years later, Marks’ views had changed so completely, that the roles she sought out as an elected councillor on committees concerned with the welfare, education, health and leisure of children in Islington came from a place of genuine concern, perhaps realising how organised and calculating paedophiles could be – OR had her views remained the same and therefore her interest in joining certain committees came from the perspective of a radical subversive intent on halting the march of the ‘child protection racket’ where possible?
In Chapter 9 Morgan QC looks at Marks’ role on Islington council. In this report ISN highlights the gaps in Morgan QC’s knowledge of Marks’ career chronology and asks for further scrutiny of specific areas.
11. Sandy Marks
11.1 How much Sandy Marks knew of these situations before the Evening Standard reported in October 92 I have no idea. I hope she might have read the Islington Gazette reports of the murders of Loki, Swift and McGrane in the 80s and cases such as the abduction of a child from Elwood Street home in the 80s by residential worker John Picton. I hope that these issues were discussed at council meetings. Her involvement as Chair of the LBCRPC would have alerted her to organised abuse of children across London as she established a group to report on it details of which are available at the London Metropolitan Archive. This highly specialist knowledge would surely have made her open to listening to the reports I was making and hearing how serious the issues were.
11.2. I know Sandy Marks attended the Islington press conference in July 93 because I sat in the café across the road from the Town Hall whilst the Chair of BASW, David Jones, attended it. He came to me in the café rather shaken and said he had had an altercation with her. He has also repeated this to me more recently.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018:11
11.3. I was not in any position where I met councillors other than Margaret Hodge whilst she was the local councillor for our patch and after the White report I met Alan Laws and Richard Greening at their request.
11.4. I do not know what issues were taken to the committees or by whom. This information will need to be sought from John Rea Price, John Goldup, Sara Noakes and the ADSS’s Alan Gibbs, Alan James, Lyn Cusack and Tony Cousins.
11.5. Although I went to my union NALGO for representation they did not support me and at one time were threatening. The branch secretary called my home number late one night and demanded I meet him outside the union office and that I came alone. Of course I was scared by the call and did not go.
11.6. In the 70s I met Sandy Marks when she worked at Rising Free bookshop. Rising Free, based at 197 Kings Cross Road, supplied literature to other Bookshops. I remember PIE literature of that time. I cannot remember if Rising Free distributed PIE literature. They were in effect a wholesaler.Dr Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.2018:11.3-11.6
Council Career – Summary
Morgan QC’s review doesn’t provide an executive summary of Marks’ career at the council and several committee memberships are also missing from the review, for example the role Marks played on the Youth Committee during the 1980s.
Greater understanding of the way in which PIE’s Steven Adrian Smith, Micky Burbidge, and Peter Righton worked during 1979-1984 to infiltrate youth groups such as Gay Youth Movement (‘GYM’) and London Gay Teenage Group (‘LTGT’) in Islington, requires better scrutiny of Marks’ involvement with the Youth Committee.
To place Sandy Marks’ potential to be influenced by her former pro-paedophile political views and discern any impact “on the way she carried out her duties” into perspective it is necessary to place her length of service and roles on various committees in context of the number of members and their relative experience, especially those exercising statutory duties in relation to the welfare of children and voluntary organisations.
In her review of the documents (as listed in Appendix 7 yet to be provided to ISN) Morgan QC considered the following questions as relevant to answering the Terms of Reference above, especially with regard to coming to an overall conclusion as to what impact Marks’ previous political campaigning for paedophile rights had on her conduct and behaviour once chairing or serving on the Social Services Committee, the Case Review Sub Committee, the Adoption and Custodianship Panel and the Youth Affairs Committee:
- On which bodies or sub committees within the Council was Marks active?
- In which decision making processes was Marks involved?
- What role if any Marks played in recruitment?
- Which reports to the Council or committees did Marks receive as a member?
To the questions above ISN would also add:
- What were the scope of statutory powers and responsibilities of the committees Sandy Marks served on?
- Is it more influential to be on a committee of three or six or twelve?
- If only the same few members attend as quorate, will presence and absence dictate influence?
- Is it more or less influential to be the only experienced committee member amongst new faces?
Having identified points of scrutiny to determine the extent of Marks’ influence and knowledge (constructive and actual) it would have been useful for the Morgan Review to include a summary of Sandy Marks’ career.
In particular, during the 13 year period between May 1982 – April 1995 in the build up and immediate aftermath of the Evening Standard exposé, Sandy Marks:
- was one of 6 or 7 Social Services Committee Chairs during this 13 year period – while the maximum consecutive period for other chairs is 2 years, Sandy Marks’ clocks up 3 years during 1992-1995, having already served for 2 years during 1986-88
- was Chair of the Social Services Committee for just over 38% of this 12 year period
- and is the only continuous member on the Social Services Committee of 12 voting councillors + 6 co-opted non-voting members for the entire 13 year period
- when not Chair, Marks served as Vice-Chair for 2-3 years
- was a continuous member of the Case Review Sub-Committee for 13 years and serves as Chair for at least 5 years, a committee where reports of children’s homes inspections and individual child protection issues would be raised
- was Chief Whip for the Labour group on the Council from May 1990 – April 1992, during the key period of investigations into the IWNO allegations prior to the exposé
- served as Chair of the Adoption and Custodianship Panel for several years during the 13 year period (not Chair during June 1991 – September 1992)
Even where a representative Social Services role on an all London Borough committee was usually filled by the Chair of the Social Services Committee, unusually when Marks wasn’t Chair she remained Islington’s Social Services representative on the Association of Metropolitan Authorities as in 1990-1992
It is clear that the White inquiry chose Marks as the only Chair of the Social Services Committee to interview because of the length and continuity of her service, not only as the Chair but in her role on several Committees concerned with children, during the key period under scrutiny.
“One Manager told us that regular reports were presented to the Council on the 6 weekly Committee cycle making it clear that physical conditions and standards in the Home were very poor and needed attention — long before the Evening Standard Reports. This person’s view was that there was no response from Members, although we were told by another Manager that when drawn to his attention, the Director of Neighbourhood Services allocated resources to improve the fabric of Children’s Homes.”White Inquiry (1995) History Context and Culture. Chapter 3 p.22
The White Inquiry had already remarked that on receiving inspection reports every 6 weeks from children’s homes the Councillors on the Case Review Sub-Committee were non-responsive, as quoted above.
In her Review Morgan QC has expanded on the type of information the Case Review Sub-Committee received and made it clear that Marks was in receipt of this information.
White described a huge political rift occurring between the Council’s Social Services Committee and the Social Services Department, led by Director John Rea Price. The lines of communication between Rea Price and the councillors is described is not good, not open and senior members of the council (such as the Chair of the Social Services Committees over the years? or as demonstrated in Margaret Hodge’s response to David Cofie during spring 1990?) had disbelieved any reports concerning resources.
How was Marks’ relationship with Director of Social Services John Rea Price, or Assistant Directors of Social Services such as Lyn Cusack?
“We are told that, increasingly, Social Services “drifted away” from the centre of “political gravity” and that the department was increasingly seen as arguing against the creation of the Neighbourhood Services model.White Inquiry (1995) Chapter 3, p.26
We further understand that this process to some extent continued when the Housing Department and Social Services Departments were finally merged. In other words, whilst the Director of Neighbourhood Services may have participated in corporate management meetings, there was not a good and open channel of communication between Chief Officer and Members; reports about resources in Social Services had very little credibility amongst senior Members of the Council and we understand that there was very little understanding about a “need to know system” between Members and Chief Officers.”
During her first term as a Councillor and as member of the Social Services Committee, a number of Islington staff working with children are convicted for offences against children, some of children in their care:
- Islington employee Carol Hines voluntary social worker (July 1983) is convicted
- Islington residential care worker John Picton (December 1983) is convicted
- Islington employee Abraham Jacob is convicted (1986)
Without Appendix 7 listing the documents Morgan QC reviewed it is unknown as to whether the Social Services Committee minutes or the Case Review Sub-Committee Minutes surrounding these events were looked at.
It is highly likely the case of John Picton would have appeared in either of those Committee minutes during September – December 1983 not least due to the seriousness of abducting a child in Islington’s care but also due to the fact that the Council despatched two workers to France to bring home (see Report #6 under 14 Conewood Street).
The subsequent pressure the Paedophile Information Exchange purported to exert over the Council with their article in Minor Problems stating PIE had met with Picton after his first appearance at court must be investigated in the context of what the committee minutes state. ISN survivors tell of Picton’s involvement with other children and staff in Islington children’s homes which has never been investigated. (See further Report #6 Organised Abuse – The Islington Evidence)
The issues the case of Abraham Jacob’s conviction raised highlighted how difficult it was for local authorities to protect children against council staff, who if convicted for offences against children while employed, didn’t feel the need to inform their employer. How those issues were sidelined amongst political point-scoring and how the Social Services Committee and Case Review Sub Committee dealt with Jacobs’ case and the subsequent Home Office circular requiring local authorities to police check prospective employees working with children and the subsequent protests over the years from the police and John Rea Price that a backlog meant the Council was continuing to permit people with convictions for offences against children
As Report #5 makes clear during her first Chairmanship of the Social Services Committee, Islington Council:
- introduced the first Child Sexual Abuse Policy / Guidelines during 1985-1988
- appointed the first Child Protection Advisor – Sara Noakes in 1986
While Chair of the London Boroughs Children’s Regional Planning Committee Marks was privy to:
- Brent Council’s investigation of Operation Hedgerow which led to the working party proposals for a specialist centralised team to assist local authorities with the investigation of ‘child sexual abuse rings
- Orchard Lodge Sub-Committee (see Report #14) investigation
- Melanie Klein House Review (see Report #14)
Social Services Committee – Scope & Purpose
The Social Services Committee had 12 elected members and up to 6 co-opted members.
Bearing in mind only 17 of 52 of the newly elected Islington Council had served as councillors before, the sweeping success of Target ’82 meant that few of Islington’s new far left victorious radical socialist councillors had any practical experience in a local authority.
The few that had included Bob Crossman (Altrincham), Margaret Hodge, Valerie Veness (Cllr since 1974), Anne Page (former Social Services Committee chair) and Carol O’Brien (Social Services Committee Chair 1982-84).
This sudden breach with the past meant that on the Social Services Committee only three members remained with experience – Mrs Ann Page, Mrs Carol O’Brien and Rosemary Nicholson – and in a row over staff to child ratios at children’s homes Ann Page was eventually squeezed out during 1983.
Margaret Hodge, in her 1995 New Statesman article “Not Quite, White” states there were 14 Chairs of the Social Services Committee between 1971/2 – 1992. In 20 years how many Chairs like Marks had served more than twice?
Chairs of Islington Social Services Committee
ISN are compiling a list of Social Services Committee Chairs during 1972 – 1995 along with their terms served:
Mr Don Hoodless (1972/73)
Mrs Pat Brown
Mrs Audrey Bayliss
Mrs Ann Page
Mrs Carol O’Brien (1982-1984)
Mrs Rosemary Nicholson (1984-1986)
Sandy Marks (1986- 1988; Chair: 07.05.1992 – April 1995)
Mr Mike Devenney (1988-1990)
Mr Joe Simpson (1990 – 1991)
Case Review Sub-Committee
In 1972 the Case Review Sub-Committee (then called the Casework Sub-Committee) is described as taking the place of the Adoption and Case Sub-Committee.
Amongst the Case Review Sub-Committee’s delegated statutory powers and duties was included (f)(2) :
(f)(2) “To consider and discuss the exceptional individual cases arising in the fields of personal social services where all other channels of communication have been exhausted.”John Rea Price, Islington SSD, December 1972, Terms of Reference for Casework Sub-Committee
Sandy Marks served on the Case Review Sub-Committee for 13 consecutive years between May 1982 – April 1995. She is the longest serving Case Review Sub-Committee member of anyone that served as a member between 1972-1995. That alone would mean she had the best opportunity of any elected Council Member to form an opinion concerning the frequency of convictions of Islington residential staff for criminal offences against children.
Six members of the Social Services Committee, including ‘ex officio’ the Chair of the Social Services Committee, served on the Case Review Sub-Committee.
It was quorate with just 2 members attending a meeting. Councillor Bob Crossman also sat on the Case Review Sub Committee with Marks.
In view of Report #12, did Crossman and Marks ever sit as a quorate pair on the Case Review Sub Committee?