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Child abuse scandal: ex-mayor is being made a scapegoat

29 September, 2017

• I HAVE known Sandy Marks, ex-mayor of Islington and councillor for more than a decade, for more than 35 years.

The current concerns and future investigations about “child abuse in council homes in the 80s and 90s” have raised their ugly head again. And the magnificent obsession by whistleblower at the time and former Islington social worker Dr Liz Davies is commendable in its tenacity.

But is Ms Marks being made a “scapegoat”, being  the only leaf of a tree that some are shaking vigorously to see if they can get real big culprits to drop on the floor of suspicion? In my opinion, yes.

The new investigations must be applauded. I joined Islington South Labour Party in 1981. I witnessed first-hand the split in the Labour Party and subsequent defection to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

It was rejected by the Islington electorate by a huge majority. The newly-elected Labour councillors, who included Ms Marks, had no connection to the child abuse scandal of the 1970s. It was the old regime who did not deal with it correctly and fully.

Ms Marks is guilty of naivety and ignorance, as were many politicians back then. When, in the 90s, Dr Davies, and another Islington social worker whistleblew about child abuse in Islington children’s homes, was it reported to the appropriate council staff? Apparently so.

The then leader of the council, now Barking MP Margaret Hodge, is said to have taken over the investigation. At her request. She has since apologised.

Collective “corporate” responsibility has to be investigated. Did council staff move on the revelations of child abuse effectively, did the police properly investigate at the time, was the council leader’s action in taking over the investigation ultimately inadequate? These are questions the new judge-led inquiry must look at.

Criminal prosecutions and guilt must be appropriately apportioned but I doubt it will be laid at the door of the chair of the committee for children’s services at the time? Ms Marks may very well be revealed to be nothing more than the scapegoat.

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