Report #13: Islington Chronology May 1982 – April 1986

This report (Report #13) is the thirteenth 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

This report and Reports #14 (1986-1990) and #15 (1990-1992) and #16 (1992-1995) place the career chronology of Sandy Marks at Islington Council, (as provided by Morgan QC in Chapter 9) into a context of events occurring in Islington which should have been of concern to the Social Services Committee.

The intention is to piece together as close to a comprehensive picture of the nature, extent and duration of influence and power, perceived and actual, that the ideology behind pro-paedophile rights activism enjoyed both inside and outside Islington Council. It is a work in progress.

ISN are working to include:

  • Incidents of press reported failures to protect children in Islington’s care from its own staff are highlighted as anticipated to be of concern to the Social Services Committee and/or the Case Review Sub-Committee Marks served on. Therefore, included as priority are convictions of Islington’s residential staff, social workers, voluntary social workers, and youth workers for abduction and/or sexually exploiting children in their care reported by the local and sometimes national papers, as well as Council Minutes showing discussion and/or official responses to those events where they occur.
  • Milestone developments in child protection policy and practice covered in Report #5 are included as well as constructive and/or actual notice of the methods by which child sex abusers were capable of forming pockets of self-organised abuse networks just under the surface of a local community.
  • Events surrounding the build-up in campaigning for the PIE defendants of the second trial, and PIE members’ subsequent trials and convictions, especially pre-trial activism by Islington resident PIE members and supporters.
  • Incidents of pro-paedophile activism in Islington continuing around the second PIE Trial of 1984 while Marks is a councillor.
  • PIE’s documented meetings held in Islington, either of Executive Committee members, Annual General Meetings or ordinary social events.
  • Events celebrating children’s rights or inviting children to council meetings as representatives

As Sarah Morgan QC points out at para 9.4 the chronology of Sandy Marks’ career as a Councillor set out at Chapter 9 was not intended to be comprehensive and therefore there are some gaps. These gaps are highlighted where they occur throughout this Report and Reports #14, #15 and #16.

1982

Sandy Marks is elected to St George’s ward in Islington North constituency. The MP was Michael O’Halloran who had left Labour for SDP in late 1981.

Council Minutes 15 October 1985, Appendix B

Council Minutes show that in March 1982 there were 267 children in LBI run children’s homes, with 788 children in Islington’s care in total. These are the children the Social Services Committee and Case Review Sub Committee had responsibility for as corporate parents

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18: p?

ISN seeks a more thorough response from the Council, listing membership of the Case Review Sub-Committee during 1982 – 2000.

June 1982: Bob Crossman and the safety of children at Richmond Crescent toilets. See further Report #12.

Pro-paedophile rights representation at Islington Gay Groups Meeting convened by Cllr Bob Crossman

Following on from Crossman’s castigation of the Borough’s Cleansing Officer at a June meeting (Islington Gazette (1982) Richmond Avenue toilets. Concerns for children. 11th June) and his assertion that men would only stop ‘waving their penises’ at one another at Richmond Avenue toilets with sufficient resources for gay and lesbian social groups and counselling services available to combat isolation, he initiated a Gay Groups meeting. Councillors Marks, Derek Hines and Keith Veness. See further Report #12.

23rd July 1982: Tom O’Carroll released after 16 months in jail (Capital Gay). Was O’Carroll aware that the young woman he’d met at the Conspiracy Against Public Morals meeting in Islington on 11 September 1979 was now an Islington councillor?

By 1982 PIE luminary Dr Morris Fraser has moved from Dalston/Hackney in E8 to Northchurch Road, Islington.

1983

The year 1983 will see local headlines report the conviction of three Islington employed staff working with children convicted for abducting or abusing children currently or formerly in their care. A 53 year old male children’s home worker, a 43 year old female voluntary social worker and a young 18 year old male.

In 1983, Council Minutes show that 279 children were living in Islington’s children’s homes, with a further 318 living with foster parents. The proportion of children in both residential care and being fostered was twice the England and Wales average.

31 July 1984, Council Minutes

Questions remain over cash deposit provided for Children’s Home holiday to Rimini, Italy

8 March 1983: George Cunningham MP (Islington) noted in the House of Commons:

“There was the trip to Italy by children in council care and the social workers, of course, in charge of them. The trip greatly exceeded the council’s own guidelines for the cost of such holidays. An internal audit showed that there had been irregularities in money control in the home in question. The deposit for the trip was paid in cash and in spite of a committee decision that it should not take place the decision was overturned when the staff took the matter to the Labour group. The staff accompanying the children had the gall to claim hundreds of pounds in sleeping away allowance because they were in Italy looking after the children.”

Hansard 8.3.83

Did this issue arise in the minutes of the Social Services Committee or the Case Review Sub Committee that Morgan QC reviewed?

Where did the cash deposit for the Rimini, Italy holiday for the children’s home come from?

Did social workers give permission for children to go on the holiday and gain parental consent where required?

Which staff at which children’s home approached who in the Labour Group to overrule/act against a Social Services committee decision.

Was the children’s home given the Rimini holiday deposit (obtaining preferential treatment by appealing directly to political partisanship to overrule the elected members’ committee) the same children’s home run by Cllr Vic McGeer’s brother which featured in concern over McGeer’s role at the Personnel Committee in negotiating with his brother undeclared in September 1983?

If the individual was Sandy Marks what does this say about her attitude and ability to act unilaterally against a committee she served on?

What allegations did Morgan QC hear concerning abuse on holidays?

Sarah Morgan QC Report, Chapter 9, p.45

At the start of her second year as an elected council member, Sandy Marks extended her membership of committees from 2  (Social Services & Case Review) to 5 by joining the Development & Planning / Policy (Finance & Expenditure) / Education Advisory Committees.

In 1983, Sandy Marks chaired her first committee: Education Advisory Committee. Morgan QC does not appear to have discovered or recorded Marks’ membership of the Youth Committee until much later.

28 July 1983: Islington Council waves through proposals of Policy & Partnership Committee, formally proposed by Leader Margaret Hodge but driven by Cllr Bob Crossman, the only person reported to have spoken during the ‘debate’ (which Capital Gay puts in inverted commas to perhaps indicate the lack of debate). Capital Gay reports ‘positive action’ for recruitment of gay staff, “including the sensitive area of work with children”.

As per the Building the Gay London Community booklet, does Cllr Bob Crossman consider ‘gay paedophiles’ a service user group not to be discriminated against when applying to the council to work with children?

July 1983 – Carol Hinds, Islington voluntary Social Worker convicted

Within the first 18 months of Marks joining the Case Review Sub Committee, two Islington Council staff were convicted of either sexually exploiting or kidnapping children they had come into contact through their employment.

Islington Gazette 8.7.83:10

In July 1983, Carol Hinds, a “highly-respected” 43 year old resident of Stoke Newington, “well regarded for her social volunteer work for Islington Council” was convicted of sexually exploiting a 14 year old girl who had come to her attention as a client. Mrs Hinds’ reprieve was that her 21 month jail sentence was suspended for 2 years. The headline failed to recognise the incident as organised abuse perpetrated by an Islington worker.

PIE Executive meeting in Islington pub

20-26 August 1983: News of the World reported on a PIE Executive Committee meeting held at the Hemingford Arms, Islington where The Nasty Nine (28.8.83) met and Edward Lee Brand, a PIE member, reported it was discussed to offer a £5000 reward for information on the sexual assault of a 6 year old boy in Brighton.

Staff: Child ratios at children’s homes – A McGeer Brothers conflict of interest?

The Social Services Committee lost Cllr Ann Page when she resigned on 5th September 1983 following a clash with Chair of Personnel Committee, Sandy’s fellow St George’s Ward Cllr Vic McGeer and questions over the negotiations of staff to child ratios in children’s homes, when it became clear that Pete McGeer, of Sheringham Road Children’s Home was also Victor’s brother.

8 September 1983: September’s PIE Bulletin reports that Steven Adrian Smith, Peter Bremner and David Joy had been arrested and charged with 5 common law offences of ‘incitement to commit sexual offences’, one of publishing an obscene article and one of posting an obscene article. They are released on police bail to report daily to their local police station

PIE Bulletin July 1984, LSE Archives

9 September 1983: Islington Gazette headline, “Council’s pledge to parents over jobs equality charter: Kids safe from sex perverts”

Carol O’Brien, Chair of the Social Services Committee wrote to the Islington Gazette to state:

“No person who had a sexual interest in children would ever be considered as suitable for such work.”

Islington Gazette, 9.9.83
Council’s pledge to parents over jobs equality charter: Islington Gazette (1983) Kids safe from perverts. 8th September

During 1983, the abduction and murder of 4 year old Marie Payne had pushed the need for police record checks for applicants wanting to work or volunteer with children. Serial child molestor turned murderer Colin Evans had gained access to voluntary babysitting with families with young children through a charity Toc H with his probation officer’s knowledge despite a history of convictions for sexual offences against very young girls.

Following Evans’ conviction in December 1984 Thatcher’s Home Office issued a Home Office circular of July 1985 establishing a requirement for local authorities to make pre-employment checks with local police stations and, and as it turned out also the Met police for serious cases recorded on a central computer.

So the question remains how in 1983 were Islington Council able to provide the assurance that “No person who had a sexual interest in children would ever be considered as suitable for such work” when it would appear that at least 2-3 abusers were employed in each of Islington’s children’s homes in-borough, as residential staff, when central government had yet to address the fact that abusers were motivated to look for work with children in order for access and opportunity to abuse?

“In the late 70s and early 80s Islington adopted what White called the ‘very laudable aim’ of ending discrimination in child care employment… However, zealotry allowed a well-intentioned policy to be highjacked. In the interest of ‘positive discrimination’ Islington became lax about demanding professional experience, qualifications or even proper references of any self declared gay man who applied to work in or run one of Islington’s children’s homes. Mere friends could supply references. and the council could not query their backgrounds. Yet, at least 3 men featured in our investigative work, and the White Report, were ‘networkers’ directly linked to convicted child abusers who pool victims and pornography”.

“Boys’ tearful and angry disclosures flew in the face of council politics. Gay men were oppressed (true) ergo all gay men are good (false). Intelligent and well meaning women even categorically advised the council that gay men were less likely than hetereosexuals to abuse children. Intelligent and knowledgeable analysis was rendered impossible in Islington. Ian White’s report concluded… the equal opportunities environment, driven from the personnel perspective became a positive disincentive for challenge to good practice.”

Fairweather E (1998) Exposing the Islington children’s homes scandal in Hunt G (1998) Whistleblowing in the Social Services. London. Hodder p 21 and p 26

By the time Abraham Jacob, a former residential worker of an Islington children’s home was convicted in May 1986 for being a major kingpin in procuring and prostituting runaway children, mostly boys, from Piccadilly Circus to clients in London’s suburbs, a second question became clear as urgently requiring resolution – how could local authorities be notified as an employer of a conviction of an employee for criminal offences against children (sexual, physical, neglect, exploitation) while in their employment? Were the police obliged to inform the employer as a matter of course?

Was the checking of references or police records ever a matter for discussion at the Social Services Committee or the Case Review Sub-Committee Marks served on?

Did Cllr Bob Crossman’s militant approach lead to the dismissing of allegations of a sexual interest in children as homophobic without appropriate, sensitive, investigation?

What was Marks’ view on how children could be protected from sexual predators without discriminating against gay men and lesbians applying for jobs working with children?

‘No person who had a sexual interest in childen would ever be considered as suitable for such work.’

Islington Gazette(1993) Kids safe from sex perverts. 9th September

John Picton, Islington residential care worker abducted 13 year old boy resident. See also Report#6

The following day after Carol O’Brien’s view appeared in the Islington Gazette, John Picton, a 53 year old former care worker at Conewood Street Assessment Centre  abducted a 13 year old boy in the care of Islington Council, a resident of Elwood Street children’s home, (Quadrant ward) on 10 September 1983. He had repeatedly applied to foster or adopt the boy and Islington Social Services Department had turned him down. He was convicted and received a 6 month suspended sentence.

It should be noted that one of the ISN survivors, who came forward to Sarah Morgan QC, had information concerning John Picton and how children in Islington’s care were still seeing him after his conviction.

Islington Council moved swiftly and it was actually two council employees who were despatched to track Picton and the boy to France and brought the child home, leaving police to arrest Picton. Does this suggest Islington Council were acting on intelligence they had already gathered about Picton, perhaps through gathering concern over his adoption and fostering applications?

4th November 1983: PIE was seen as such a local issue that in the run-up to  Stalls are down on PIE (Islington Gazette)

1984

January 1984: 3 members of PIE Executive Committee appeared at Bromley Magistrates’ Court: Steven Adrian Smith, Peter Bremner and David Joy.

8 May 1984: Sandy Marks served on the Social Services Committee with Rosemary Nicholson (Chair) who takes over from Mrs Carol O’Brien while Kathleen Bundred remained Vice-Chair for a second year.

Sarah Morgan QC Report, Chapter 9, p.45

Sandy Marks took over as Chair of the Case Review Sub-Committee during 1984-85 (as thanked by Chair Rosemary Nicholson in Council Minutes (22nd April 1986). Who else was on it at this time? Bob Crossman?

If Picton had found that pro-paedophile rights were lacking representation on the Adoption and Fostering Panel prior to 1984, and Sandy Marks had not yet renounced her political support for paedophile rights, this changed in 1984.

Sandy Marks joined the Adoption and Custodianship Panel. According to Morgan QC’s report Marks was not on the Panel when John Picton had been applying and was turned down repeatedly during 1982-83 before he abducted a boy.

May 1984: PIE’s purported pressure on Islington Council’s ‘radical socialists’

“It’s high time to act. Islington Council purports to be the most radical socialists in London. We ask them: why was this inhuman wrong done? We request them let [child] and John meet again. We demand from them repair, on the political level, your bureaucracy’s criminal bungling. You can do it, and you should do it, if you don’t want to lose your credibility.

”‘Affection is a crime’, Mick, Minor Problems, May 1984, p4

In 2018 ISN revealed that amongst PIE’s newsletters in archive, a May 1984 edition of PIE publication Minor Problems showed that PIE felt that it had sufficient sway over Islington Council to demand that the former residential worker, John Picton, who had abducted an Islington child in care to France, be permitted to meet the child again.

Minor Problems, May 1984 
  • What credibility did PIE perceive Islington Council as having with pro-paedophile rights activists and why? 
  • Why would PIE expect that Islington Council as the ‘most radical socialists in London’ would assist a residential worker to reunite with a child in care he had abducted and already been turned down for fostering and adoption by the Council? 
  • Why would PIE think a public exhortation to the Council to act, printed in their paedophile newsletter, would be read by anyone from the Council to act on it?

Four new Social Services Committee members join – Charles Chapman, Alan Clinton, Pat Haynes, and SDP George Lambillion. 

Council Minutes, 8 May 1984

1984: Marks begins to Chair the small Case Review Sub-Committee

At some point during 1984, Sandy Marks took over as Chair of the smaller Case Review Sub-Committee.

Valerie Veness & Islington’ s criminal investigation approval process

On 19 June 1984 Sandy Marks and Valerie Veness joined the Women’s Committee together.

Valerie Veness had been an Islington Councillor since 1974 moving from Junction ward to Mildmay ward in 1978. During 1974-1995, Mildmay ward was where the majority of Islington’s in-borough children’s homes were located.

ISN Islington ward map showing location of children’s homes.

Valerie Veness’s fellow Islington Councillor and husband, Keith Veness (Quadrant Ward 1982-1986) claims to have “recruited [Sandy Marks] to the Labour Party, having first met her in 1975.” See Keith Veness’ 1410 word statement to the Islington Tribune disputing Marks’ involvement in pro-paedophile rights activism. (Islington Tribune (2017) Child abuse scandal. New probe on the way. 22nd September)

The Venesses are credited by Margaret Hodge as being “instrumental in securing [Islington North] for [Corbyn], and then Valerie went to work for him.” Keith Veness and Corbyn both worked for National Union of Public Employees (NUPE).

Prince, R (2016) Comrade Corbyn: A very unlikely coup, Biteback Publishing

Valerie Veness would become Corbyn’s Parliamentary researcher at the House of Commons for 17 years and Keith Veness, Corbyn’s electoral agent for nine or so years, before a second Islington councillor (Leader: November 1992 – May 1994), Derek Sawyer took on that role.

In July 1984, Cllr Valerie Veness (Deputy Leader) delivered a worrying answer to SDP Councillor David Hyams in place of Margaret Hodge:

“When a person in the Council’s employ is suspected of a criminal offence, is the decision as to whether the matter should be referred to the Police for investigation taken solely by professional management?”

Council Minutes, 31 July 1984, question from Cllr David Hyams

“This Council does require the Chief Executive [Eric Dear] to confer with the Leader [Margaret Hodge] and the Chair of Personnel [Vic McGeer] before any allegations are referred to the Police.

The reason for this is so that Members can make sure no member of staff is subjected to Police investigation unnecessarily and so that Members can assess whether that action under the Council’s own disciplinary code would be more appropriate.”

Cllr Valerie Veness (Deputy Leader) answer, Council Minutes, 31 July 1984

In 1984, as per Valerie Veness, the Deputy Leader, the Council’s policy was not to refer any criminal allegations against an Islington employed worker without first having the approval of Eric Dear, Margaret Hodge and Vic McGeer.

The message was clear, only Elected Council Members would get to decide if criminal investigations or prosecutions were necessary, or whether to keep any disciplinary action “in-house”.

Council Minutes, Questions to Councillors, 31 July 1984

Eleven years later, Tunnard and McAndrew would refer to the consequences of the Council policy Valerie Veness had described as Islington’s “family secret”, a policy of protecting putative abusers from police investigation thereby permitting residential staff with serious allegations of criminal offences against children to move into new jobs with further access and opportunity to abuse children.

So when Morgan QC declares all allegations of organised or network abuse investigated and found to be unsubstantiated, it is also quite clear from her own quote of White’s conclusions at para 10.9 below that allegations against residential staff of involvement in organised or network abuse were not investigated by the police or by the council in accordance with its own disciplinary or child protection procedures. 

Sarah Morgan QC Report p.56 sets out White’s conclusions, starkly demonstrating how Islington’s policy of not letting police investigate staff “unnecessarily” had boiled down to avoiding taking action

During the early 1980s PIE diversified into infiltrating youth groups, rallying the Gay Youth Movement (GYM) to support PIE and the Executive Committee members on trial during autumn 1983.

GYM’s publication, Gay Youth Issue No.10, December 1983-January 1984

September-November 1984: PIE’s reported demise and a second trial

“The self styled Paedophile Information Exchange organisation took a conscious decision to attach itself to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and to lobby for acceptance as a minority group with particular sexual predelictions. This gross miscalculation exposed the existence of an organised body of mainly men which had as its raison d’etre the sexual abuse of children. The distorted thought processes which lie at the heart of a paedophile’s belief system were therefore directly responsible for the initial exposure and subsequent investigation of their secret networks. The response of the police and media to the outrageous assertions of the lobbyists led to universal condemnation, several prosecutions and an attempt by the lobbyists to retreat from the public spotlight”.

Hames M (1996) A police view of pornographic links in Bibby P (1996) Organised Abuse. Hants. Ashgate Publishing p198

16th September 1984: Steven Adrian Smith (28, of Beechfield Road, Catford, South London) is reported as skipping bail weeks before the second trial of PIE Executive Committee members due to take place in October 1984, fleeing to Holland. (The People (1984) Child sex trial man flees.16th September). Smith is reported as on the move having fled to Spartacus HQ at Baarn outside Amsterdam just before the trial date (Daily Star (1984) Catch the PIE man! 18th September).

17th October 1984: (The Guardian (1984) Pie man: legal move. 17th October)

19th October 1984: Capital Gay reports PIE has disbanded (Capital Gay (1984) Paedophile Group disbands. 19th October).

19th October 1984: PIE extradition. (The Times (1984) PIE extradition. 19th October)

October 1984Black and In Care conference took place in Islington. See further Report #5

PIE Trial 1984: Steven Smith, David Joy and Peter Bremner

6 November 1984: Trial of 3 PIE Executive Committee members begins at the Old Bailey; David Joy (43) (Russell, Loughborough, Leicestershire) and Peter Bremner (44) (aka Roger Nash of Upper Clapton Road, East London) (Daily Star (1984) Guilty men who back child sex. 7th November). Peter Thornton of NCCL is defence counsel for Bremner. Bremner claims PIE folded in August 1984. (The Guardian (1984) Child sex group ‘has folded’. 19th November).

1985

As at March 1985 there are 145 children in LBI run children’s homes and 293 children placed with Islington registered foster carers. The number of children at home on trial had more than halved. The total number of children in Islington’s care stood at 547.

As at March 1982 there were 267 children in LBI run children’s homes, Council Minutes 15 October 1985, Appendix B

While Marks remains on the Social Services Committee, the Adoption and Custodianship Panel and continues to chair the Case Review Sub-Committee, the Education Advisory Committee drops off Morgan QC’s list.

Morgan QC Report, p45-46

The Council appoint members of the Youth Committee – Cllr Sandy Marks, Cllr Oliver and ex-Councillor Margaret Pitt.

Council Minutes 30.7.85 stating Cllr Marks had been appointed a member of the Youth Committee
Council Minutes 22 April 1986, Social Services Chair thanks Sandy Marks for chairing the Case Review Sub-Committee for the previous year

Both Marks’ service on the Youth Committee from this point and her chairmanship of the Case Review Sub-Committee are missing from the Morgan QC Review.

7th July 1985: PIE member Edward Brand claimed that he has been shortlisted for a job by neighbouring Haringey Council as a care assistant to disabled children  (News of the World (1985) Evil PIE boss in child care scandal. 7th July).

December 1985: Jason Swift, known to be attending Conewood Street Assessment Centre (possibly the school unit) was found murdered in a field in Essex.

To be continued …..

Report #14: Islington Chronology May 1986 – April 1990

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