Report #4: Morgan’s denial of organised abuse

This report (Report #4) is the fourth 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

Organised Abuse

In this report ISN describe the organised abuse networks evident within Islington’s care system and which extended within the community. In evaluating the management and council response at the time, this information is presented in the context of the policy and legislation in place in the early 90s and of further knowledge gained since the White Inquiry. 

Islington Survivors Network present a challenge to the findings of Sarah Morgan QC who has restated in her Review the qualified denial in the White Inquiry (1995) that ‘Allegations of organised abuse were investigated but not substantiated’ (White Inquiry p47). ISN consider that Morgan QC has made a serious error of judgement in this respect. Morgan QC interviewed 8 ISN survivors but refused to see or missed seeing 9 others who wanted to tell her about abuse networks. She said in her Review that their evidence fell outside the timescales of the Terms of Reference. ISN say Morgan QC went outside her Terms of Reference in making generalised statements about there being no evidence of organised abuse networks.

Morgan’s denial of evidence of Organised Abuse

Morgan’s denial of evidence of organised abuse is contrary to the view expressed by Islington Council Leader Richard Watts over a year prior to publication of Morgan QC’s review;

“I did not see evidence of organised abuse.“

 “I am very aware of the pressure, some of which has been brought to bear on me, from those who continue to believe that there was network and organised abuse in Islington.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review, 2018:17.27 and 19.22

“I don’t know [for certain], but on the balance of probabilities there probably was.”

Council Leader Richard Watts’ view on whether Islington Council staff helped organised abuse networks gain access to children under its care, Claim council workers ‘helped paedophiles’.    Islington Tribune, 6.10.2017

And yet, now when speaking on behalf of the Council, “We”, Councillor Richard Watts seems to have changed his view;

“We accept all the report’s conclusions and expectations…”

Council Leader Richard Watts, Council Press Statement on the publication of the Sarah Morgan QC Review, 07.11.2018

ISN response to Morgan’s denial of Organised Abuse

“If Islington Council are so sure that they have changed, and they are not the same council of old, then why did they find it necessary and are so ready to accept, the Sarah Morgan conclusion of, NO ORGANISED ABUSE?  Islington Council boss Cllr Richard Watts and Carmel Littleton, had apologised to myself and other survivors, on more than one occasion. They have both said how sorry they are for the ” HORRIFIC ABUSES THAT WERE INFLICTED ON CHILDREN IN THE CARE OF ISLINGTON LOCAL AUTHORITY”. So if this is true, and if this is how they really felt, then why have they not dismissed that awful Sarah Morgan Review themselves, and set up a proper police enquiry? Obviously their apologies to survivor are not meant, they are just empty and hollow words, and they are still protecting all those PAEDOPHILES”.

Islington Survivor 2018

“What I fail to understand about wasting a year on a report that doesn’t expose the necessary information of the paedophile ring that we all know did exist as survivors is that these people must have a vested interest in not exposing the truth.”

“They want us all to die, go prison or lose our minds so they don’t have to deal with the untold truth… we will keep on keeping on..”

“It’s a massive insult to us survivors, we know the truth, we will carry on fighting to be heard, we refuse to be silenced any more.”

“I’m just flabbergasted that she has come to this conclusion and not really looked at all the facts on the table. It’s really dispiriting. They used to call us liars as individuals now they’re calling us liars as a group.”

“Morgan gives criminals/enablers the green light saying no-one needs to look into abuse networks. Its a game of lets pretend it never happened and hope we keep quiet.”

Islington Survivors 2018

Morgan QC Review: No defined terms

Sarah Morgan QC did not define organised abuse in her Review. She refers to networks, organised abuse and ritual abuse outside the context of policy and practice guidance nationally and locally. This is the relevant statutory guidance dated 1991 – continued with little alteration until 2013.

“For the purposes of this Guide organised abuse is a generic term which covers abuse which may involve a number of abusers, a number of abused children and young people and often encompasses different forms of abuse. It involves, to a greater or lesser extent, an element of organisation.

A wide range of abusing activity is covered by this term, from small paedophile or pornographic rings, often but not always organised for profit, with most participants knowing one another, to large networks of individual groups or families which may be spread more widely and in which not all participants will be known to each other. Some organised groups may use bizarre or ritualised behaviour, sometimes associated with particular ‘belief’ systems. This can be a powerful mechanism to frighten the abused children into not telling of their experiences. Research suggests some caution in sharp distinctions between types of abuser. Most sexual abusers share characteristics which suggest a calculated recidivist pattern of activity, where multiple abuse acts and multiple victims are involved.  ‘Paedophiles’ may also abuse children within their own homes and ‘incest’ offenders may abuse children outside the family.”

Home Office et al (1991) Working Together under the Children Act 1989. London. HMSO

Morgan misinterprets White’s conclusions

In 2018, Ian White’s obituary in the Guardian, written by his wife Imogen White, stated her husband was convinced that, in the context of organised abuse, many of the allegations were possibly true.

“He was made CBE in 1995 and in the same year was asked by the London borough of Islington to lead an independent inquiry into its handling of allegations of organised abuse in its children’s homes. The inquiry report said it was possible that many of the [organised abuse] allegations were true, identified 32 staff alleged to have been involved, and described the running of the council as ‘disastrous’.”

Ian White obituary, Guardian, 22.12.2017

Morgan disregarded email from Shirley Oaks Survivors Association

“I received in response to the call for information a submission drawing my attention to the fact that Clifford Heap, who had been Superintendent of Shirley Oaks Children’s Home, was later 1971-80 an Assistant Director in Islington. The same submission expressed certainty that there had been organised crime networks exploiting children across the authorities during the time of this Review. Mr Heap’s time in Islington pre-dates Sandy Marks election to the council and the submission did not help me in considering Terms of Reference 1B and I did not need to discuss it with her.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:16.21

“What took place at Shirley Oaks and other Lambeth children’s homes was physical and sexual abuse on an industrial scale which remained unchecked for decades. The damage done is irreversible. But knowing the abuse continued in other Lambeth children’s homes when Shirley Oaks closed and discovering to what extent cast a shadow over this country. You will hear many claims of witch-hunts in regards to other abuse allegations, but no one has questioned Lambeth’s role in what we, the enlightened survivors, call “a reversal back to the dark ages”. There are heroes in every walk of life, and having heard the personal accounts of hundreds of people, many of whom are my friends, and shedding thousands of tears, I say, “Shame on you, the establishment, for turning your back on us.”

IICSA (Preliminary hearing) Lambeth Investigation. 24.3.16 Evidence of Raymond Stevenson SOSA:

The submission Morgan QC refers to was an email from Shirley Oaks Survivors Association. SOSA were not acknowledged in Morgan’s Review as having contributed which is surprising as they did not request confidentiality. SOSA represent over 1500 Lambeth survivors. Their evidence is based on over 4 years collation of survivor accounts and meticulous research. This is a quote from their email to Morgan QC;

“We are sure you will be aware of links between convicted and known child abusers, as well as people of  influence, in Lambeth and Islington. We are certain that there were organised crime networks abusing and exploiting children which went across the authorities during the years covered by your Review. As just one example: Clifford Heap was the Superintendent of Shirley Oaks Children’s Home [1952-65] who subsequently became Assistant Director in Islington (1971-80). In our view it is relevant for you to explore, investigate  and include this information in your Review.”

Shirley Oaks Survivors Association email to Sarah Morgan QC 26.3.18

Shirley Oaks Survivors Association and ISN are aware of a number of abusers who worked or had connections with the care system in both authorities. The role of Clifford Heap as Assistant Director Social Services in Islington with responsibility for residential children’s homes and appointments of staff,  is central to an understanding of the networks that existed in Islington during those critical years of infiltration of the care system by child abusers.  Liz Davies had already alerted Morgan QC to this influential Islington manager in her Report so ISN would have expected her to recognise the importance and relevance of SOSA’s email.

Morgan QC ruled out SOSA’s email on the basis that Clifford Heap was outside the timeframe of the Terms of Reference and had no relevance to a Review concerning Sandy Marks. Yet Morgan QC herself went outside this timeframe to make categoric statements relating to organised abuse being ‘non-existent’ in Islington. Heap was mentioned in SOSA’s email as just one example – yet Morgan QC ignored their contribution in its entirety and did not give this survivor group so much as a mention.

“I began to build on my knowledge of the 90s and understand the extent of the networks that I had only begun to uncover. I also learnt of the links between Lambeth abuse networks and Islington. I began to liaise with Shirley Oaks Survivors Association e.g. Clifford Heap as Superintendent of Shirley Oaks children’s home and then appointed as ADSS Islington with responsibility for residential care. Heap also set up a fostering ‘experiment’ (his description) in 1977 whereby a children’s home was closed down and the manager was given 5 of the children to foster. Survivors have described this ‘experiment’ in some detail as they were told it was their family and they had to call the manager ‘Mum’. A file record states that she had not been assessed as a foster carer”. 

Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 13.2.18:13.4

“A social worker asked if she had been assessed before becoming a Foster parent. The fostering manager explained that she had done a couple of interviews but had not written it up as the situation had more or less been decided in advance when the Department wished to close the childrens home that Miss X was then running”.

“Social workers expressed doubt about Miss X’s ability to cope with the 5 children on her own”

In 1979, Heap took a child from an Islington children’s home to visit another Islington child who had been placed in Stamford House  [where Heap had previously been Superintendent] and threatened him that if he told about sexual abuse in the children’s home he would “end up in that secure unit”.   Another ISN file shows Heap responding to a petty incident by separating three children who were friends to three different secure units without seeming to attempt to resolve the issues within the home that led to this incident.

Islington Survivors Network evidence 2018
Several Islington Council Social Services job adverts published during 1972-1975 suggest that potential candidates telephone Clifford Heap to make informal enquiries
Islington Council Minutes 29.7.80 show that in the period after Hermas Rees Jones, the former Islington SSD had left and prior to John Rea-Price joining as Social Services Director on 13.3.72, Clifford Heap was in situ and the most senior Islington Social Services officer

Leslie Paul, convicted in 2016 of sexual offences against children whilst a residential worker in Lambeth 1980-88, lived in Islington and had previous convictions also against Lambeth children. At his trial it was reported that he abused children he had taken to the Finsbury Park area but there was no evidence of crimes being committed in Islington. At the time of his arrest he worked with young refugees at a project in London N4.

Abraham Jacob worked in a children’s home in Lambeth. He had also been a houseparent in Mildmay Park children’s home in Islington between 1971-2. In 1986 he was imprisoned for 4 years for running a network of child sexual exploitation.  A former teacher and priest he was one of 40 men arrested under Operation Circus which targeted men  abusing boys and networking them in Piccadilly on what was known as the ‘meat rack’. 

The Times 16.5.86

Morgan’s analysis and denial of organised abuse is based on 4 flawed premises

  1. Morgan’s narrowly defined focus on allegations within Irene Watson Neighbourhood office
  2. The evidence of Kate Hart
  3. The evidence of multi agency working groups in the 90s
  4. Discrepancy in Morgan’s analysis of sub-committee cases and working group denial

(1) Narrow focus on 1/24th of Islington’s Neighbourhoods

As one of the 24 Neighbourhood Offices Irene Watson NO included the streets between Hornsey road, Holloway Road and Seven Sisters Road as in the map below. The upper boundary was the railway line.

Sarah Morgan focused only on the Irene Watson Neighbourhood allegations in her blanket denial of any organised abuse networks. This is what she decided as relevant to her terms of reference, as what may have been known or not to Sandy Marks, however, there is much evidence of organised networks operating outside of those allegations which after all arose from only 1/24th of Islington’s Neighbourhood Offices.

(2) The evidence of Kate Hart as a co-author of part of the White Inquiry

As far as ISN is aware, Hart had not had any further involvement in investigating allegations relating to Islington beyond 1995 when the Inquiry concluded.  ISN consider Hart’s information to be over 20 years out of date and therefore cited out of context.

Morgan’s denial of evidence of organised abuse networks is based entirely on one persons’s interview with no supporting documentation from the original White Inquiry being available to her Review.

Consequentially, the conflict in evidence between that of Hart and Liz Davies could not be interrogated.  Hart’s views were of their time and there are now 23 years of further evidence that has come to light through survivor and witness evidence, police investigations, convictions, trials and extensive reputable media reporting. However, it is important to note that the White Inquiry includes statements which are circumspect and in context are not definitive in stating that the networks of abuse did not exist.

The fact that White examined some issues of organised abuse is clear in that he describes concern about a child victim of network abuse which led to an independent review and report submitted to the Neighbourhood Services Case Review Sub-Committee in June 1994 (White Inquiry p.44).  The report included recommendations about the investigation of organised abuse by police and social services. Why would this recommendation have been made if there were no findings?

Ian White stated that there had not been systematic investigation and that the possibility of many of the allegations made being true remained.  

“This Inquiry has sought to bring together all the previous work, and has charted an organisation in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that was for many different reasons chaotic. Such a chaotic organisation breeds the conditions for dangerous and negligent practices in relation to child care and the possibility that many of the allegations made were true remains.  What is sad is that Islington did not systematically investigate them as they should have and as a result, the possibility remains that children have been abused and that abusers are still working in the field elsewhere.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:55 quoting White Inquiry, Executive Summary

“It is clear that Islington did not initiate the type of investigation they should have and as a consequence the possibility remains that staff engaged in abusive behaviour are now working elsewhere in the field with potentially serious consequences. Islington should have known and acted. They clearly did not.”

White Inquiry 1995: 10.9

White, later, also made clear that allegations were investigated but not substantiated which was very different from saying there was no organised abuse at all especially in the context of his strong criticism of social services at the time which he said had little focus on children’s rights.  Morgan QC is categoric that organised abuse networks did not exist but Hart’s evidence has not reflected accurately the nuances of the White report. Given the many and very serious criticisms White had of the Islington child care system it would surely have been nothing short of a miracle if allegations of organised abuse had actually been substantiated when staff were raising with managers and the ACPC that their investigations had been suppressed and they were unable to do the job they were being paid to do of protecting children.

“We have concluded that allegations of organised abuse were investigated but not substantiated. With regard to all the other matters, the overall picture presented by enquiring into the allegations concerning the abuse or neglect of children is one where there was no strong ethos of promoting children’s rights and protecting children at risk. The welfare of young people, particularly those in residential homes received insufficient time and attention at management levels and children were not afforded basic standards of accommodation or care.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:57 quoting White Inquiry 1995:47

It must be emphasised that White was making reference to the time when the working groups Morgan QC refers to were taking place during 1990-2. These working groups were responding to the investigations conducted by Liz Davies and David Cofie and their team in just one 24th part of Islington’s Neighbourhoods which was the Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office.

ISN are clear that the professionals were asking for a coordinated response to protecting all the children at risk and to investigate all the alleged perpetrators. This was refused as senior managers insisted on the response being to individual cases with no overview of networks. The attempts to investigate the networks were shut down. ISN is also clear that the networks were abusing children far beyond the IWNO neighbourhood office patch which covered the few streets between Hornsey and Holloway Road.

“With the exception of one conviction in relation to a staff member at a residential school, Islington did investigate these allegations and we found no evidence to support assertions of organised abuse…  we have concluded that allegations of organised abuse were investigated but not substantiated.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:57 quoting White Inquiry 1995:42

(3)  The evidence of multi-agency Working Parties into allegations raised by Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office

“To my surprise, having taken at face value before starting work on the Review the assertions that there had not been any proper investigation into organised abuse I found that there had been social services, inter-agency and police investigation. The following sets out the nature and extent of those investigations.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:17.7
Martin Higgins, Director of Neighbourhood Services, response to questions asked by Stewart Payne and Eileen Fairweather Evening Standard Journalists 2.10.92. He was very clear the investigative co-working approach Liz Davies had requested, and as statutory guidance required, had not been implemented.

During November 1991 – August 1992 there were two sets of working groups set up. The earlier one was formed in response to allegations of organised abuse and the other was established following ritual abuse allegations (as a distinct type of organised abuse).  The working groups were chaired and attended by the very managers who were suppressing Davies and Cofie’s investigations and the work of the Islington Police Child Protection Team. The credibility of these working groups is therefore open to question.

White commented that he had seen the minutes of the Inter Agency Working groups which were,  

“…not detailed but do demonstrate that Islington ACPC did meet in broad terms the expectations identified in the statutory guidance.”

White Inquiry 1995:42
White I and Hart K (1995:42)

Morgan QC did not seem to understand that these groups were criticised in subsequent years. She does not include all the evidence submitted to these groups by Cofie and Davies much of which was summarised in Liz Davies’s report to Morgan’s Review. ISN do not know which members or officers were interviewed by Ian White, except for Councillor Sandy Marks. Morgan QC , although she had no access to the White Inquiry archive, might have asked Kate Hart to confirm which, if any, staff involved in the Working Groups gave evidence to the White Inquiry.

Morgan QC could also have requested interviews with the key managers to explore why they made decisions to close down investigations and reprimand social workers and police who were trying to protect children. Some are still working professionally and may have welcomed the opportunity to speak.

IWNO professionals held a different view from the managers on the Working Groups

It was clear that professionals working locally in the various agencies in IWNO neighbourhood had different views from those managers on the Working Groups. 

“There did however seem to be an unresolved tension between these groups and staff in the neighbourhood leading to frustration on all sides.”

McAndrew B & Cassam E (1994) Supplementary report for the LBI on the management of childcare within the Neighbourhood Services Department, p7

This finding in itself should have alerted Morgan QC to take, at the very least, a cautious view of the Working Group findings. She does note that White had said the minutes of Working Group meetings were not detailed and only met the Department of Health standards in ‘broad terms’. On a balance of probabilities ISN consider that Morgan had sufficient information to allow for doubt rather than give her wholesale approval to the findings of a few Working Groups. 

“I did not see anything which either caused me to form a different view about these working groups or the conclusions they reached about organised abuse or which led me to recommend a further investigation into organised abuse.”

Sarah Morgan QC Review 7.11.18:17.13

The Working Party minutes demonstrate the instruction to staff at IWNO and police that there was no reason to continue their investigations. No wonder there was a noted difference of view with those on the ground who experienced the shutting down of their work to protect children.

Confusion in the role played by the Social Services Inspectorate

A minute of a senior level Islington meeting dated 19.10.93, cited by Morgan QC, reports the Social Services Inspectorate statement that there was no need for a retrospective investigation into network abuse at Irene Watson and that as a result of enquiries they have been ‘unable to find any substantiation to the allegation that there is currently a LBI paedophile link, although there was once in the past’.

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:17.14

ISN ask:

  • What was the London Borough of Islington paedophile link Social Services Inspectorate were aware of that was substantiated once in the past’?
  • How long ago was considered to be once in the past?

The minute of this meeting on 19.10.73 is quite extraordinary. Just over 2 months earlier, on 3rd August 1993, the Deputy Chief Inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate was assuring Liz Davies’s lawyer that her 100 page statement and legal submission were to be considered as part of a follow up to the Cassam/McAndrew report and a planned inspection of Islington’s arrangements to manage work arising from network abuse investigations.

How long did it take for the SSI to digest Davies’s documentation, the Inquiry report and to assess the findings of the as yet only ‘planned’ inspection? .

3.8.93 Letter to Liz Davies’s lawyer from SSI

Perhaps former Dep. Chief Inspector SSI, Don Brand would be willing to clarify this discrepancy. As biographer of former Kent Director Nick Stacey he stated;

“In 1989, I was appointed Deputy Chief Inspector in the Department of Health’s Social Services Inspectorate, working over the next seven years with two Chief Inspectors, Sir William Utting and his successor Lord Laming. My arrival coincided with the passing of the 1989 Children Act consolidating all the previous child care legislation into a single act of parliament rooted in the principle that the child’s interests must be paramount… the Inspectorate was heavily involved in the preparation of 9 volumes of guidance to support the Act’s implementation and supervised and monitored local progress in putting the Act’s provisions into place”.

Brand D (2008) Nick Stacey and Kent Social Services. Kent. Brand Book p63

There were three key moments when investigations were closed down. This is not mentioned in Morgan’s Review.

(1) 16.5.90 Meeting at Highbury House between the police child protection team and IWNO social workers with the Assistant Director of Social Services (Children & Families) and the Child Protection Advisor

(2) 31.7.90 and 22.11.90 Assistant Director of Social Services (Children & Families) instructed Davies and Cofie not to alert other teams about Caterer’s abuse of Islington children

(3) January 1992 Assistant Director of Social Services (Children & Families) informed Liz Davies that there would be no more police for her to work with on the ritual abuse case, that the DCI at Golders Green had been discredited and the Islington Police Child Protection Team would not work with her either. As was later discovered the DCI had not been discredited. Liz Davies no longer worked with him after this date and only recently learnt that he had similarly been told by senior officers not to work with her. This is how 6 months of diligent and expert investigation came to a sudden halt. 

(4) Discrepancy in Morgan’s analysis of sub-committee cases and working group denial

Reading the 1992 Case Review Sub-Committee examples (Morgan QC Review, 7.11.18: 15.11) provided by Morgan, ISN are dismayed that there has been no forensic analysis giving numbers of children reported as at risk of organised abuse while Sandy Marks was serving on the Case Review Sub-Committee. At the very time the council was denying the validity of reports by Davies and Cofie they knew of widespread abuse of children in the children’s homes from the Inspection Reports. The councillors and managers knew and did nothing other than suppress the work of those professionals who were trying to protect children and expose the scandal. The council was complicit in the abuse at this time by its lack of protective action in the face of sexual and physical crimes against children within their own care system. Morgan QC on reading the reports was rightly shocked. Yet this did not lead her to re-examine her perspective on the decisions of the ACPC/Working Groups or make further inquiries of the views of the fellow councillors of the Case Review Sub Committee.

“Alison Millar has called on the council to review the individual cases that have been exposed in the review or in the case files studied by the review, to follow up these cases; attempt to trace the victims and witnesses to offer them support and provision; and to liaise with the police about criminal behaviour that requires to be investigated.”

Leigh Day Statement, 7.11.2018
%d bloggers like this: