Report #17: Marks vs Hodge

This report (Report #17) is the seventeenth 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

Hodge’s 1995 critique of Islington’s White Inquiry

-vs-

Marks’ statement to Morgan QC review 2018

A detailed look at four documents, two close in date to the White Inquiry, challenge Marks’ recollection of her non-involvement in the inquiries.

  • Marks’ final statement, unchallenged by Morgan QC, Appendix 10, 25 September 2018
  • Marks’ answer to Cllr Pat Haynes question – a temporary farewell speech before becoming Mayor, Council Minutes, 27 April 1995
  • Hodge’s coverage of the Evening Standard exposé in her 2016 book ‘Called to Account’
  • Hodge’s article ‘Not Quite White’ New Statesman, June 1995

Marks’ accusation of Hodge having control of the inquiries can only make sense in the context of a very limited time period during Tunnard and McAndrew’s first ‘interim’ report, and yet Hodge’s 13 lines in Called to Account do not dispute that she was in control, interrogating everyone except the children robustly.

It is the repeated appearances of Marks as council spokesperson to the press, and in council minutes that casts doubt on Marks’ current recollection of events. Notably however Hodge is absent from public view, if directing the inquiries and Marks from behind the scenes, in the 8 or so months prior to her departure from the council.

Over the past 27 years, Hodge has repeatedly blamed nameless council officials for misleading her (as recently as 2016 in Called to Account), but has never named them, nor been interviewed by any inquiry, nor stated that she has voluntarily submitted written contributions to any inquiry. Certainly Hodge had no nameless council officials to blame for her later disgraceful smearing of Demetrious Panton to the BBC in 2003.

Sandy Marks’ final statement to Sarah Morgan QC (Appendix 10)

“I was told clearly and unequivocally to hand this investigation over to the then Leader of the Council, Margaret Hodge, which I did.”

Sandy Marks’ written statement to Sarah Morgan QC Inquiry, 24.9.18: Appendix 10

During the week or so between Marks providing Morgan QC with her statement (dated 25 September 2018) and the date of Morgan QC’s report (3 October 2018), Sarah Morgan QC does not mention if she tried and failed to reach Margaret Hodge for comment on the final statement made to the review by Sandy Marks. Or whether Hodge volunteered her own contribution to the Morgan QC Review?

Instead, as a result of the Morgan QC review, a large unexpected question mark now hangs over who was leading Islington Council’s investigations and inquiries during 1992-1995.

Margaret Hodge MP told the Islington Gazette, “If Sandy Marks did hold those views, I was not aware of them. Furthermore I signed a petition calling for the banning of the PIE in 1983. I have apologised a number of times for our failure to understand about child abuse and take children’s voices seriously in the Eighties. I am sorry. Our naivety was shameful and I’m really glad we’ve learned since then the importance of listening to the voices of children who have been abused.”

Islington Gazette, 11 May 2017

In Appendix 10, her final statement to the Morgan QC Inquiry, Marks is left pointing a finger at Hodge as project managing “this investigation” from behind the scenes, despite Hodge’s hasty resignation as Leader within 48 hours of the Evening Standard expose. By May 1993, Hodge had departed Islington Council entirely as she had been ejected for not having attended a council meeting for 6 months.

Is Marks suggesting that despite Hodge’s swift resignation as leader, and lack of attendance at council meetings between October 1992 – May 1993, Hodge retained lead control over investigations behind the scenes? Hodge was only “the then Leader of the Council” for approximately 48 hours after the Evening Standard published. Or is Marks referring to Councillors Derek Sawyer or Alan Clinton who lead the council after Hodge?

Why then was it Marks who Tunnard and McAndrew had to negotiate with for an extension of the deadline? (Council Minutes January 1993 / Report #16). On what or whose authority did Marks agree the extension? Who had ordered Marks ‘clearly and unequivocally’ to hand over control to Hodge? Was it Hodge or someone else?

Which investigation is Marks referring to? There were several – the investigation into and successful conviction of Roy Caterer? The police raids on Duff’s home that Cassam and McAndrew raised a query over whether the police should be reviewing the efficacy of? Or the further investigations into the Hot House?

Is it too much to presume Marks is not alleging Hodge was managing “this investigation” when no longer a councillor? Who took over leading the inquiries from that point in May 1993? Is Hodge’s departure an additional reason for the delay in starting Part II inquiry with Cassam and McAndrew, as well as Jo Tunnard’s acrimonious exit?

Who does Marks think was managing the child abuse inquiries at the Council in the two years following Hodge’s departure from the Council (mid 1993-May 1995)?

The power to do nothing

“As Chair of Social Services, I had no audit facilities and limited powers.”

Marks statement 25.9.18. Appendix 10

Although Marks’ may have had no powers to order audits (Morgan QC doesn’t comment or provide an overview of powers and duties for the committees), she did have powers to resist them as she demonstrated when a vehicle mileage log audit was requested for a particular children’s home (Report #13, July 1986). To ask what action Marks took in favour of abusers is to misunderstand the political objectives of the Fallen Angels – their stance was consistently negative towards and resistant to ‘child protection’ – inaction was preferable where issues of child safety were concerned. In order to achieve their aims politically in relation to liberating children from the ‘child protection racket’ all that had to be done was

The power to speak to the press

Marks and Morgan QC both underestimate a power Marks exercised frequently, beyond those gifted as Chair of the Social Services Committee, that of seeing her words printed in the press, or appearing on television to give her view.

A few months after travelling to Catalonia to raise support for the PIE defendants, Marks, employed as Finance Officer by Islington Community Housing (ICH – the address of which she had given to the IGA Conference for pro-paedophile activists to contact), she also spoke to the press on their behalf to criticise the Council for not reaching agreement with organisations such as ICH to make sure of empty housing.

“Sandy Marks, a spokeswoman for ICH…” Municipal Housing, 1980

As Chair of the Social Services Committee until May 1995 (when she stepped down to become Mayor) her lead role with the media was evident:

Despite Ms Marks’ assertion of having no contact with the investigations, it is clear from Report #16 press coverage of the successive inquiries that she remained Islington Council’s preferred press spokesperson on all issues relating to the child abuse inquiries from 6 October 1992 until April 1995.

Who was briefing Sandy Marks with statements to the press updating them and the public on progress or conclusions to the various inquiries?

If Margaret Hodge was actually the council member running the investigations, despite having relinquished her Leadership of the Council within 48 hours of the Evening Standard exposing the allegations, who was instructing Sandy Marks to continue facing the press?

Who had instructed Ms Marks to hand the investigations over?

Was this instruction issued before or after Ms Marks appeared announcing Jo Tunnard and McAndrew’s review in October 1992?

….before or after Ms Marks gave a press conference announcing the conclusions of Part I in February 1993 or announced the start of Part II (Cassam & McAndrew) Inquiry at a press conference in May 1993?

… before or after Ms Marks declared in her self-congratulatory farewell statement of 27 April 1995 to the council chamber before taking up her Mayoral duties that she had worked as Social Services Committee Chair for the past four years, in particular in her role in the Children’s Homes investigations, inspections and the ensuing remedial action?

When Margaret Hodge departed the Council in 1993 under whose instruction was Sandy Marks presenting as the press spokesperson behalf of during ….1993/1994?

Hodge: Called to Account (September 2016)

In Appendix 10, of the Morgan QC Review, Marks also asserted:

“Margaret herself covers this in some detail in her book “Called to Account” and whilst the investigation was perfunctory and did not speak to any of the victims / complainants…”

Sandy Marks Final Statement to Morgan QC Review, Appendix 10

A look through Margaret Hodge’s Called to Account autobiography reveals that the information Marks considers to be Hodge covering “this investigation” “in some detail” amounts to 13 sentences.

“I accepted the strong assurances given to me by officials that there was no paedophile activity in our children’s homes. Whether those officials knew and were covering up, or whether they themselves believed that the allegations made by the children were unfounded, I will never know. But our naivety then seems incredible today. It was only after an inquiry some three years later that I learned the allegations were true.”

Hodge M (2016) Called to Account: How Corporate Bad Behaviour and Government Waste Combine to Cost us Millions. London: Little Brown: Chapter 1

Rather than Hodge passing the buck to the same nameless council officials she has for over a quarter of a century, it is long overdue for her to now contribute to the growing body of knowledge about how Islington’s inquiries were misinformed. Hodge should speak up about who the nameless officials are who she has blamed for smearing victims and misleading her during 1990 – 1995.

Who are/were they?

Why won’t Hodge name them?

For such a self-declared fan of public accountability why did she not stand by that principle when it came to the child abuse exposed in Islington?

Hodge M (2016) Called to Account: How Corporate Bad Behaviour and Government Waste Combine to Cost us Millions. London: Little Brown: Chapter 1

Hodge is careful to note that she was carrying out “lengthy, and as I thought, appropriate investigations,” aware what she is describing is not appropriate: an untrained lay person, getting involved in what should have been a joint social work-police investigation of child sexual exploitation across an entire borough.

Regardless, Hodge is keen to present as an independent-minded interrogator of police and social workers;

“We questioned the professionals, the social worker, and the police but we failed to talk to the children who were the victims of the abuse.”

Hodge M (2016) Called to Account: How Corporate Bad Behaviour and Government Waste Combine to Cost us Millions. London: Little Brown: Chapter 1

A merciful failure for once. Hodge was not qualified to talk to the victims.

In fact, the Cassam Review of July 1994 had expressly warned that only qualified social workers and line managers should be involved in child protection issues and made a repeated warning for Islington permitting untrained professionals to get involved in the investigative processes involved in child protection work. A criticism it appears that in over 25 years Hodge has yet to register or absorb as relevant to her conduct and behaviour.

“It was only after an inquiry some three years later that I learned the allegations were true.”

Hodge M (2016) Called to Account: How Corporate Bad Behaviour and Government Waste Combine to Cost us Millions. London: Little Brown: Chapter 1

Had the fact Islington’s Press Complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, alleging that the Evening Standard bribed children had been rejected in March 1993, not given Hodge a clue? 

In 2003, Hodge’s disgraceful attempt to smear survivor Demetrious Panton to the BBC ended in a forced apology and a sum paid to a charity of Panton’s choice.

Hodge’s consistent response to accusations of her cavalier complacency for Islington’s children in care was to smear the messenger, ignore the message and disregard the facts.

27 April 1995: Sandy Marks’ pre-Mayoral Farewell speech

A look back at Marks’ contemporaneous recollection of her role in the inquiries highlights a number of conflicts with her most recent assertions to Morgan QC of little involvement.

Three weeks before Ian White unveiled his and Kate Hart’s Inquiry on 23 May 1995, Sandy Marks gave a fond farewell speech to the Council chamber. On 27 April 1995, Marks reflected on her work as Social Services Committee Chair for the past four years, in particular her role in the Children’s Homes investigations, inspections and the ensuing remedial action. Unsurprisingly due to the level of involvement Marks had with the inquiries, as Chair of Social Services Committee, Chair of the Case Review Sub-Committee and Chair of the Implementation Working Party, she emphasised how busy she had been doing all of this.

Cllr Pat Haynes asked of Marks,

“You have had as Chair a very bumpy ride in your time. Can you tell us one or two of the achievements that have been accomplished?”

“I would like to start with children’s homes because this is really where I came in. Six weeks after becoming the Chair of Social Services I got a phone call from the press saying, “Do you know what’s going on in your children’s homes?”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

It is documented in Morgan QC’s Review Ms Marks had served as a member of the Social Services Committee since being first elected in May 1982. Also, as Reports #14, #15 and #16 lay out, Marks had already been Chair of the Social Services Committee May 1986 – 1988, Vice-Chair, 1989, and Chair again from 1991 – 27 April 1995.

So if the impression is given that she was new to the role, just six weeks fresh to becoming Chair, this was misleading.

“I said I think so but you are going to tell I do not.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

As Morgan QC revealed, the Case Review Sub-Committee Marks and Crossman sat on during 1992 were receiving horrifying reports from children’s homes, some of which fell within the definition of organised abuse, which the committee was noting but giving very little response to otherwise. Morgan QC confirmed in her review that Eileen Fairweather, a journalist investigating for the Evening Standard, first phoned Sandy Marks during June 1992, six weeks after Marks had begun her second stint as Chair of the Social Services Committee.

“Well, they certainly did tell me and I certainly didn’t and whether I would be here answering this question if I had known what I was going to have to do in the time I’m not sure.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

Marks gives the impression she was exhausted by her work and involvement with all the inquiries and the implementation working group.

And yet 24 years after giving this speech, Marks now maintains she didn’t have anything to do with the inquiries.

“There has also been enormous criticism of children’s homes residential staff. In certain areas that was clearly right…Getting the bad staff or the mediocre staff to either leave or work well is a much more difficult thing to do and is something that is made harder by adverse publicity because they feel why should they care.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

It is not clear as to how criminally intent staff, set on abusing the children in their care, were demotivated by adverse press coverage of their abuse of children.

“Trying to work with very disturbed young children in slums is not easy, and many of [the staff] were able to provide a high quality service in very poor accommodation.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

While this is true (ISN has had contact from residential staff of whom children have wonderful memories, who bear witness to abuse and the physical conditions), Marks fails to mention the concerning pattern that emerged, that ‘bad staff’ / criminally intent staff were child abusers employed by the Council with responsibility for the children they were abusing.

Marks was pleased to announce that all her attempts to meddle with the work and schedule of registration and inspection had been rebuffed by the Head of Quality.

“In fact our Head of Quality will not even allow me to make changes where I think that there are things wrong, or even re-schedule them so that the work of the registration and inspection is manageable.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

And revealed her continued involvement with the inspection process:

“I meet with independent providers on a regular basis to make sure they are happy with the way in which inspection and registration is going as well as talking to managers in local authorities about that.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995
Finally, public confidence. It is almost impossible to get any decent news in the newspapers. The only things that get in the newspapers is bad news. There are actually two examples of good news stories that nobody has ever mentioned in this Chamber before. One is that we won The Pro Leith Award for the best quality meals-on-wheels services in London both in terms of the quality of the food, the attractiveness of the presentation and the adequacy of the size of the portions and I bet nobody noticed that.

“Finally, public confidence. It is almost impossible to get any decent news in the newspapers. The only things that get in the newspapers is bad news. There are actually two examples of good news stories that nobody has ever mentioned in this Chamber before. One is that we won The Pru Leith Award for the best quality meals-on-wheels services in London both in terms of the quality of the food, the attractiveness of the presentation and the adequacy of the size of the portions and I bet nobody noticed that. That was in the Standard in about the same week as the Children’s Homes stuff.”

Cllr Marks reply to Cllr Haynes question, Council Minutes 27 April 1995

Apart from how ignorant, wilfully insensitive and arrogant Marks’ minimising use of the phrase ‘the Children’s Homes stuff’ is, the way in which Marks triumphantly reveals such a minor achievement (“I bet nobody noticed that”) in the same breath as such monumental failings of the council is an obscene disregard for equivalence. Marks even attempts to imply that the lack of positive press coverage for the meals on wheels award was as a result of press bias.

From

‘God, right, It’s me’

Sandy Marks to Islington Gazette journalists when shown a photo, Morgan QC Review, 7.11.18:

to

‘I could pretend it’s not me’

via

‘What a terrible haircut’

to

‘It’s not me’

to

‘If it is me it’s not taken at the place you say it is’

‘I never had that haircut’,

finally returning to

“It’s not me”

Marks is unsure, how far, if at all, legally she is required to tell the truth to Sarah Morgan QC. This was not a court of law so there was no penalty of perjury. 

Not Quite, White!

Margaret Hodge replied to her critics 3 weeks after White Inquiry reports

New Statesman & Society (1995) Islington Child Abuse: Margaret Hodge replies to her critics: 16 June

Three weeks after the White Inquiry reported, Hodge published an article in the New Statesman. With a headline she was unlikely to have chosen herself (Not Quite White!), the title nevertheless captured the spirited protestation within, namely that Hodge should not be held responsible for anything she had not been interviewed by White over, and to announce that White had not interviewed her at all. In fact the focus of Hodge’s article was all the people White could have interviewed but hadn’t.

“Ian White appears only to have interviewed the social services chair for the period 1991-94. I am not the only person he failed to interview. Why?”

Hodge,M (1995) Not Quite, White. New Statesman, 16 June

Hodge was astonished that John Rea Price, Islington’s only Social Services Director since 13 March 1972, had not been interviewed by White either.

The one person White had made sure to interview was Sandy Marks. Hodge was careful to make that clear that the Social Services Chair for 1991 – 1994, Sandy Marks, was interviewed.

Hodge,M (1995) Not Quite, White. New Statesman, 16 June

As Hodge pointed out, White could have spoken to other Social Services Committee chairs. None would have had the length of service as Chair that Marks had but former committee chairs such as Carol O’Brien (1982-84) and Rosemary Nicholson (1984-86) would have been able to give an account of Marks on the Social Services Committee and Case Review Sub Committee during the time PIE was still publicly active in Islington.

Hodge is concerned that all these people were not interviewed, including herself. She reasonably guesses that Ian White and Kate Hart could have interviewed them to gain an insight into why a pattern of abusers insinuating themselves into the Council’s employment as residential care staff in the children’s homes remained unaddressed.

As the sole person interviewed out of the Social Services Director, Leader of the Council, and any former Social Services Committee Chairs, Marks can be argued to have had a disproportionate influence on White and Hart purely due to their failure to corroborate Marks’ version of events with anyone else in relevant positions at the time. If Marks had pointed the finger at John Rea Price or Margaret Hodge neither Hart or White would have known if her allegations were correct or not because Hodge or Rea Price weren’t spoken to. And, as with the Morgan QC review, the concern is that Marks would have been able to be unchallenged in accusing Hodge of wielding close control and thereby paint herself as completely uninvolved.

Unfortunately, as Sarah Morgan QC revealed in her Review early on, the files from Islington’s overarching White inquiry (into a number of other inquiries) which she was now inquiring into, (one sub-inquiry of which concerned missing files), is now also missing so there is no available record of Marks’ original statements to the White inquiry to compare to now.

Hodge’s Nameless Unaccountable Misleading Officials

“On the position in our children’s homes, we were categorically and repeatedly assured that the officers had reviewed the files of the children concerned, that there was no basis for any of the allegations, and that the Standard had been giving money to the children.”

Hodge,M (1995) Not Quite, White. New Statesman, 16 June

Which ‘officers’ of the Social Services Department alleged children were being bribed? As Councillors are referred to as Members, these officers were unlikely to have been Councillors – but if asked, Margaret Hodge, could have clarified.

Who is the “we” Margaret Hodge refers to? Who is in the group of people alleging that they were being deceived by council officers? Is it the royal ‘we’ or is it Margaret Hodge and others?

Was Sandy Marks also lied to by the same person?

Was this person an Assistant Director of Social Services who was permitted by the Council to retire before the inquiry into Missing Files was completed? Is the Council still bound by the terms of a Non-Disclosure Agreement in respect of this departure despite Richard Watts’ statement on 3 October 2018?

“The network asked: “Has the council contacted all current staff who worked in Islington social services, prior to 1995, to support them in coming forward and assisting ISN without fear?”

The Islington boss replied: “We don’t have a complete list of staff who worked for us prior to 1995 but we will make efforts. 

“Former staff are encouraged to contact police – there will be absolutely no recrimination.””

Islington Survivors Network grill council leader at Question Time event, (2018) Islington Gazette. 3 October.

Was Margaret Hodge at all concerned as to why the Council Officers might have felt inclined to mislead Councillors over the files of children concerned in the Evening Standard exposé?

If Margaret Hodge was concerned about being misled by officers, which authorities did she notify at the time – either before or after the time of writing about it in July 1995? Did Hodge make a written submission to the White Inquiry despite not being interviewed?

And why won’t Hodge name the much-blamed nameless officials 27 years later?


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