Report #3: ISN survivors respond to Sarah Morgan QC

This report (Report #3) is the third 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

Survivors and the Morgan QC Review

8 ISN survivors contributed to the Review – they said:

“It was a traumatic interview. It was difficult even to come into the building and I was a wreck when I came out.”

“I was standing in the street in the soaking wet, bawling my eyes out. I had to call ISN straight after for support.”

“Why were survivors not given a chance to speak informally, unrecorded – an offer extended to two staff at the council.”

“The bottom line is it (organised abuse) has been denied for all these years and they’re going to keep it down now, because culpability has been admitted.”

“It brought back a lot of memories that have affected me since. I really thought we would finally be given a chance to speak and be listened to.”

“I’m disappointed. I felt like a child again being questioned.”

Quotes from Islington Gazette, 13.11.2018

Morgan QC questioned whether it was appropriate for some survivors to be interviewed

“I realised – not least because some told me so – that there was an element of sharing of knowledge and feeding back of information within the ISN and with Dr Liz Davies by some victims and survivors who had contacted me and been interviewed and others who had contacted me but who I had not asked to talk to me.

There was some discontent and upset felt by some at decisions I made which was communicated to me. I thought seriously about whether for that reason alone it would be better to see everyone who wanted to talk to me, and if I adopted that course, where the balance of respect and potential for harm lay when I considered the purpose for which I would be talking to people. It may be that I occasionally made the wrong decision. My own view is that if I did, it was by inviting someone to see me for whom the distress of speaking was disproportionate given my purpose. Certainly in 2 instances when I interviewed people who expressed a very strong wish to come and who told me they had been put in touch with me by the ISN, I had serious misgivings about whether, on reflection, it had been emotionally harmful for them to have come for interview.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:6.20

ISN supported those who wanted to see Morgan before and after the interview as well as those who were declined an interview.  ISN asked everyone for feedback. None of the survivors who were interviewed have said they wished they had not come forward. It was a daunting situation to face a QC in the Town Hall – for those who did there was an emotional cost but this was their choice and they stick by it. It is wrong for Morgan to imply that ISN ‘put people forward’ and this led to a harmful experience. ISN passed the information about the process to survivors who each made up their own minds about whether or not they went along for an interview.

“So she saw ‘potential for harm.’ Yet, who would this mean.. children who were abused, or those either allegedly involved or who were complicit?”

Islington Survivor, 2018

Survivors who were declined or missed an interview

6 survivors were declined an interview because they were said to be outside the Terms of Reference timeframe 1979-1995. 3 missed being interviewed.

“And why did she not see the need to have everything put forward – as a matter of serious consideration? And why would my speaking out be deemed as ‘disproportionate to the QC’s overall purpose?”

Islington Survivor, 2018

“Several more tried to reach Morgan QC to give their views; one was turned away due to their experience falling outside of the time frame, while another could not reach her in time as there was no phone number for the public to call.

Another survivor, who was hesitant about being interviewed, had agreed to speak but at the appointed time never received a call.

“I was nervous about talking because it would drag up stuff, but I was happy to poke at an ant’s nest if it would help. I made sure I got up in time. It was hard work waiting for the phone call, and I sat there looking at the phone for about two hours. The next day she said she was sorry, but it just seemed that if it was that unimportant I shouldn’t really be talking.””

Islington Gazette, 13.11.2018

Survivors’ briefed by ISN on Terms of Reference

Morgan wrongly assumed ISN did not properly brief survivors about the Terms of Reference

“None of the victims or survivors I spoke to were able to give me information which bore directly on the Terms of Reference which had been set for the Review .”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:13.1

“It was suprising to me that on this email, amongst the information being sent to members by the ISN, the Terms of Reference of the Review did not appear. This caused me to worry that those being encouraged to contact me might not have a proper understanding of the purpose for which I had been appointed. .. I did not want them to come to speak to me thinking that I was investigating allegations of non recent child abuse, re-investigating the terms of reference of the White Report or looking at a wider remit than I was.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:16.18

Sarah Morgan saw just one email from ISN to one of the survivors and jumped to the conclusion that this represented the entirety of ISN communication with all survivors. In order to put the record straight, ISN sent an email to all the survivors attaching Sarah Morgan’s document including the Terms of Reference, pointing them to where they might read it in the Islington Gazette and for those who cannot open attachments on their phones ISN cut and pasted the ToR into the email. ISN followed this up with individual emails responding daily to many queries and questions and this led ISN to send Sarah Morgan a list of suggestions as to how the process might be more helpful to survivors. 

ISN made suggestions about the process of the Review

In response to survivors’ questions about the process of the Review and what it might involve for them, ISN sought the views of survivors about what needed to be in place to better enable them to contribute to the Review. This is the list of suggestions that ISN sent to Sarah Morgan:

  • There should be a contact phone number as well as an email as not everyone has email
  • Options instead of interviews face-to-face e.g. skype, phone call, letter
  • Survivors need expenses paid to go to an interview by public transport
  • Assistance in getting to the interview depending on individual circumstances
  • Support systems in place if the survivor wants that
  • Agreement to bring someone with them for support
  • Clarification of what confidentiality means
  • Confirmation that the review covers from 1970 to the 90s
  • Information about the interview process – How long is it? Where is it? Who will be there? Will pen and paper be available? Is there a quiet room if breaks are needed?

Cherry-picking Terms of Reference to extend remit

It was Morgan who went outside the Terms of Reference and  why did she not communicate this so that ISN could properly brief the survivors?

Whilst excluding survivors on the basis of timeframes, Sarah Morgan herself went beyond the Terms of Reference by making broad statements about the non-existence of organised abuse networks. Given that she strayed into this area, she missed the most crucial evidence to inform her enquiries which was the evidence of the 8 survivors she saw (she reports their accounts of sexual abuse but not in the context of networks) and the 9 survivors she missed seeing. Liz Davies had foreseen this on interview.

“So when survivors are asking to come and see you, they have the direct evidence of organised abuse of children – networks of abusers. I’m a bit worried that if they are out of your timeframe or the Sandy Marks timeframe that you might miss some of the information that is so crucial to this Review.”

Dr Liz Davies interview with Sarah Morgan QC 3.7.18

Morgan recommended lifelong services for survivors but no mention of justice

In her conclusion Morgan QC rightly emphasised survivors’ need for lifelong services, ‘I do not see how enduring harm can be mitigated other than by an enduring commitment’ (Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:20.10) and her statement surely assisted ISN as the continuance of the Islington Survivors Trauma Service at St Pancras Hospital, developed in co-production with ISN, has been extended. Survivors’ feedback on this innovative and creative service is excellent.

“They didn’t judge me. I thought they wouldn’t understand what I’d been through because they are young but they did because they listened.”

“They’ve given me help to manage my anxiety. I’ve had panic attacks for 30 years and now I have tried what they suggested and it worked.”

“I’ve never done anything like this before but they understand why I’m angry.”

Islington Survivors, 2018

Support is essential but healing includes justice through redress

“There is underway in Islington a range of pieces of work to address that which has been acknowledged as serious failure in the past, namely the continuing dialogue and negotiation about the provision of ongoing support for the now adult victims and survivors of non-recent child abuse: and what I understand to be proceedings on foot in relation to legal action: The remit of the Review should not without good reason trespass into that territory.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:6.21b

“To this end, the QC appears to conclude her ‘findings’ with no apparent end plan or Redress Scheme in place for Survivors. Children who have suffered abuse since time in memorium should be compensated for their pain and distress. Therefore, I find the QC’s ‘intense distaste’ having no place for those seeking accountability. Those in direct authority should at least have the backbone and do right by those who were abused throughout their time in the Care system.”

Islington Survivor, 2018

“The one thing that I have no doubt that every survivor knows, or I believe most do, no matter how much money they give you, it cost us our innocence and childhood”

Islington Survivor, 2019

Morgan QC failed to mention the council’s admission of culpability so well reported from the council meeting on 28th September 2017.

There was every good reason for Morgan QC to mention ISN as having presented the council with a proposal for redress and that ISN await the council’s decision. Redress is one aspect of achieving justice and it is devastating for survivors whose civil claims are rejected.  Richard Watts, Council Leader, informed ISN on 5th October 2018, that so far a total of just 28 survivors had claimed £2.1 million and 7 had had their claims rejected. Claiming is a long and torturous legal battle and ISN welcome the council’s promise of a ‘humane’ redress scheme. Richard Watts has promised that ISN will get the scheme and that the planning for this will begin shortly.

Justice also means prosecution of abusers 

“It also seems to me that the focus, energy and resources of Islington Council, which as I observe in this report is a very different organisation today from the one which emerged from the White Report, should be on responding to the needs of and making provision for those who were abused as children in its care in non-recent times and on protecting those children for whom it has responsibility today.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.9

Protecting children means removing abusers from the world of children.  ISN survivors want justice through the prosecution of those who abused them. Morgan QC placed little focus on the abusers. She was party – through Kate Hart’s evidence – to the confidential annex to the White Inquiry which named 32 adults who posed a risk to children. She later stated she did not need to make any referrals to the police or the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) as a result of this Review. ISN want to know whether she reviewed the 32 adults named by White and whether they remain a risk to children.

Abusers involved in Islington networks were not only those identified in relation to events in the 90s within Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office (IWNO) area on which Morgan QC based her denial of there being evidence of organised abuse. ISN survivors are speaking of the many abusers who worked for Islington Council children’s services over a 35 year period and of those who facilitated the abuse. To protect children now, as Morgan QC suggested should be the focus for the council, must involve a police investigation into those known and alleged abusers and facilitators. 

Morgan suggested the Council offer individual apologies to survivors

“I should like to say something about the public apology offered on September 28th 2017 by the Leader of the Council.. it seems to me genuine and unreserved. .. a striking statement of intent to make amends. Yet I was not sure that the impact of it had been felt by all of those to whom it had been directed. This caused me to wonder whether there might be a place, for those who felt it likely to be helpful, for the opportunity of a one to one meeting with an appropriately senior member of the council for the apology to be given in person… It seems to me at least possible that were it wanted an individual apology for that experience might be heard more clearly and felt more personally.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:20.10

Morgan QC, in suggesting the option of a personal apology, pointed out that survivors are not one homogenous group as each have their own individual experiences in care. ISN have applied for redress as a group following the council admission of culpability and apology to all Islington survivors. ISN are fully aware that individual apologies may be negotiated within a redress scheme should a survivor decide that is what they want.

Morgan recommended the IICSA Truth Project 

“It may be that the project would be an opportunity which might find its place in the provision to be offered to victims and survivors. It is not for everyone. I am aware it has attracted adverse comment in some quarters but it seems to me that if it is of value to some it should be considered.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:20.9

“I saw one of the responses from the survivors referring them to the Truth Project. Personally I would ask you wouldn’t do that … we’ve got support services within Islington that have been set up with our full involvement and they’re solid… The Truth Project is anonymised and goes to research. It doesn’t feed in to justice or healing or processes which get them any kind of justice. So its unethical… I know two Islington survivors have been there and been very distressed by it.

A lot of the Islington abuse was physical. It was torture. .. IICSA is not interested in that. They’re only interested in sexual [abuse]. ..You can’t understand what happened in Islington without seeing all forms of abuse. All forms. I think that’s abusive to survivors to say ‘ we’re only interested in this bit’.. I couldn’t support that at all.”

Dr Liz Davies interview transcript with Sarah Morgan QC 3.7.18

“I went to the Truth Project. 2 lawyers just sat there while I talked. Nothing was done about anything I told them had happened to me in care. I heard nothing more from them.”

Islington Survivor, 2018

Morgan recommended her Review should be sent to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

“It is my expectation that Islington Council will provide to IICSA a copy of my report.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:2.11

ISN do not understand the reason for sending the Review to IICSA. IICSA has the remit of examining the way public and other bodies have responded to allegations of child sexual abuse in the past. Islington is not one of the investigations designated in the Inquiry.  ISN are not core participants in any aspect of the Inquiry.

The abuse of children in Islington included all forms of abuse and a focus solely on sexual abuse, as demonstrated by the police response to IICSA, is narrow and limited. Presenting evidence to IICSA would be a delaying factor in all aspects of achieving justice and would divert energy and focus away from the investigation of the organised abuse networks.

Morgan went beyond the Terms of Reference to consider re-opening the White Inquiry

Morgan QC said she was asked to review the integrity of the White Inquiry given the allegations made about Sandy Marks but that she recognised that this might, depending on the conclusions reached, have the potential for a re-opening of the White Inquiry.

“Whilst it was not expressly contained in Part 2 of the Terms of Reference reaching the conclusions I have, I thought it right to consider whether I should recommend that there should be either a re-opening of the Inquiry into the Management of Child Care in the London Borough of Islington or a fresh Inquiry in place of it. I do not make a recommendation for either.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:2.8

Morgan QC made this decision without having seen the archive relating to the White Inquiry

“It had not been possible to find the papers from Ian White and Kate Hart’s working on the White Inquiry and so they were not available to me.”

“Incredibly, the original/archived papers from Ian White and Kate Hart’s inquiry could not be found by the time I came to conduct this Review.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018: 19.1 and 13.13

Given that all the archive on the White Inquiry  has vanished, re-opening the White Inquiry would be a difficult if not impossible task to achieve. In fact ISN has not asked for any Inquiry.  ISN have consistently tried to bring about a police and social services investigation into allegations of crime and child abuse between 1960 and 1995 in Islington children’s homes and foster placements.

‘Islington kids’ homes scandal: Why did police pull plug on new child abuse probe?’ Islington Gazette, 18.05.2017

Morgan wrongly implied that an ISN Podcast informed her as to who identified Sandy Marks in the Barcelona photograph

When interviewed, Liz Davies declined on principle to answer Morgan’s question about  whether or not she identified the photograph of Sandy Marks to the Islington Gazette.   The media are legally required to protect their sources. Morgan QC should not have asked this question.

“The Editor of the Gazette was protective of the source of the story and declined to answer my question as to whether it was Dr Liz Davies who had identified the photograph as being Sandy Marks. Dr Davies also declined to answer the same question when I asked her.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:14.36 [This comment doesn’t explain that Liz Davies refused on legal principle].

Excerpt from Liz Davies interview with Sarah Morgan QC.

Why was Sarah Morgan trying to  corner interviewees into disclosing what they did or did not say to the media? It was none of her business.

SM: What I can’t find in researching through at the moment was how in the first place the Gazette thinks it’s her and who identifies that to her. Do you know that?

LD:  I knew her in that era but I don’t remember if that image is her or not  …

SM: Right Yeah

LD: You’d have to ask Charlotte [Russell] that exactly. But there may be other pictures of her at the time.

SM: Yes

 LD: I would have thought she [Sandy Marks] could provide something. The best thing is from her isn’t it? Sandy would be – she must have pictures.. so many people knew her at the time. I don’t think that could be an issue.

SM: I understand what you say about your dealing with the press and not wanting to go into those. Did the Gazette ask you if this was a photograph of her?

LD: I’m not going to, you know, the journalists protect their sources and I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask me about my interactions.

SM: Well I’m asking you but I respect that you’re not going to answer it.

LD: No I wouldn’t on principle I wouldn’t answer anything to do with me and the newspaper source or you know.. I mean if I’m in the paper and there’s a big picture talking about the police and I’m quoted then you’ve got that , you know that I’m happy to say it was me and I did say that .But..

SM: I’m asking you specifically about the photograph and I understand from your answer that you’re not prepared to answer that.

LD: They can answer it [Sandy Marks and her friends]

Liz Davies interview with Sarah Morgan QC 7.3.18 p31

Morgan QC proceeded to cite a podcast at a Camden Community Centre which she says ‘yielded some further assistance on this point.’ ..’ In the course of the interview they were asked if they had approached the Islington Gazette with the story and Dr Davies told the interviewer that this was the case’. The relevant exchange is as follows’ (14.37);

Interviewer: maybe we should talk a bit about the Islington Gazette and the stories that you’ve, they’ve been running recently which you, which Liz, the Islington Survivors Network have been involved with I mean helping them. Did you come to them with that story? How did that come about?

Dr Liz Davies: Yes we approached the Gazette because we want the stories to get out, there are so many people will come forward and know about what we are doing and also to call to account those who were responsible for the horrors that happened and that’s really important

Sarah Morgan QC Report 7.11.18:14.37

That exchange, said Sarah Morgan ’gave me a more complete picture than I had felt able to have following my own interviews’ (14.37).

A full transcript of this podcast is available

This was an interview by one of the Islington Survivors of another survivor and Liz Davies. The interviewer was assisted by a lawyer who volunteers at the Community Centre.

It is ISN’s view that Sarah Morgan reports this event incorrectly. ISN were not asked if we approached Islington with the story as Morgan QC implies the Sandy Marks story. We were asked about the stories – as we had just had a great deal of coverage over some months of survivors’ accounts especially in relation to specific children’s homes (see for example, on Gisburne House ). Liz Davies’s answer was that we did approach the Gazette as we wanted the stories to get out so that people would come forward and know what we are doing. This referred to a number of stories about the survivors which is what this interview was about as it was recorded with survivors and led by a survivor/interviewer. For Sarah Morgan to pitch this podcast into her analysis of who identified Sandy Marks in the Fallen Angels photograph is misleading and inappropriate.

If Sarah Morgan QC had only checked this out with Liz Davies or the two other survivors who were there she would not have jumped to the wrong conclusion.

To be continued…

Report #4: Morgan’s denial of organised abuse

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