Ann Goldie – Social Worker – Whistleblower

Anne Goldie was a retired Islington social worker in 1992 and offered her help to those still working there who were trying to raise concerns. She bravely went on TV and met with an MP. She spoke about  ‘cover-up’ and that management were not listening to her former colleagues. She died in 2007 and a Guardian obituary (printed in full below) describes her important role in the exposure of the abuse in Islington.

anne goldie

Anne Goldie

Social worker who was instrumental in exposing sexual abuse

By Liz Davies and Celia Stubbs

In 1992 Anne Goldie, who has died aged 77 from an embolism, agreed to let us, a group of whistleblowers, use her flat to devise ways of exposing the child sexual exploitation then occurring within Islington’s care system. In speaking out, Anne, who had retired from the London borough’s social services in 1985, was worried that she might lose her pension, but no matter, she could take risks that we could not.

The scandal around an organised paedophile ring within that care system began to come to light in the late 1980s. In April 1990, a report on the subject was sent by David Cofie and myself to the then leader of Islington council. It was a further two years before the issue was made public – and eventually led to inquiries. As an Islington social worker since the 1970s, Anne knew about the children’s homes, the young people, and the unaddressed allegations. Knowing many of the staff within the orbit of abuse networks, she was open to considering that some were abusive, had colluded with the abusers, or had failed to prevent abuse. Our managers disbelieved the reports we sent them from 1990 onwards, but Anne insisted that we were right. In 1993, she contacted her MP and local councillors, and was distraught at their ineffective response. And as a trade unionist she was saddened by the lack of solidarity with whistleblowers, and some workers’ support of abusers.

When the story broke in the media in 1992, Anne went on TV news at a time when some of those sounding the alarm were being threatened – and physically attacked. “It’s about children,” she told us, “how could I not speak out?”

From 1989 Anne was active in the newly founded Feminist Coalition Against Child Sexual Abuse, set up at the then North London Polytechnic in Islington. She campaigned tirelessly on behalf of children and (non-abusing) parents. It was her knowledge of the dynamics of child sexual abuse, and of the actions of abusers that informed our campaign.

Born to a Roman Catholic family in West Dulwich in south London, Anne was educated at Notre Dame secondary school in Elephant and Castle. Her father was a language teacher and her mother a housewife. After training as a teacher at Wall Hall College, she began work in 1950 as a primary schoolteacher in Kent. She started work as a child care officer in 1957 in Watford, and after taking a child care diploma from Birmingham University (1959-60), she worked in the London County Council children’s department of Bermondsey, Southwark and Lambeth. It was an era when she would be admonished for refusing to remove babies considered to be in “moral danger” because of their mothers’ involvement in prostitution. In 1963, as a result of her challenging this practice, she was moved to another area. In 1964, she took a mental health diploma from Manchester University, and a year later was appointed as a senior social worker in Wandsworth.

Anne became an Islington social services area team leader in 1973, but in 1980 she was demoted, following her support for her staff who refused to work excessive hours. She was reinstated after a long campaign by her union.

Like many of her generation, Anne had struggled with her lesbianism. By her early 40s she was “out” and was a member, in the 1970s, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and other groups campaigning for gay equality.

Our struggle to expose the child abuse would have been far more difficult without her wisdom, persistence, and quiet strength. Long after the Islington inquiries were completed, our group continued to meet socially until Anne became increasingly ill with Alzheimer’s. She remains an inspiration, and gives courage to those who confront social injustices and child sexual exploitation.

In 1971 she met Valerie and they lived together as partners for a long time. They separated years ago but their love for each other remained rock solid. It was Valerie, and her partner Mary, who cared for Anne as she became increasingly ill. The three lived together until the final 18 months when Anne needed full-time residential care.

She is survived by her sister, three brothers, nephews and nieces.

· Anne Marie Goldie, social worker and campaigner, born June 15 1929; died March 22 2007

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