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Lawyer will oversee new child abuse inquiry

Investigation follows claims of widespread sex abuse in borough’s children’s homes in the late 1980s and early 1990s

12 May, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Islington Council leader Richard Watts: ‘We want to respond to these allegations with openness and transparency and a lack of defensiveness’

TOWN Hall chiefs are seeking to appoint a senior lawyer to oversee a new inquiry into Islington’s historic child sex abuse scandal following fresh allegations.

It is claimed a leading ex-councillor had links to a pro-paedophile activist group in the 1980s. The allegations are denied by the former councillor.

It has been alleged that there was widespread abuse in all 11 children’s homes in the borough in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Although the scandal broke in 1992 – it was exposed by the Evening Standard – no perpetrator has ever been brought to justice. Those in charge at the time also escaped censure.

Islington Council leader Richard Watts said he had recently met with the Islington Survivors Network, which continues to investigate the scandal and support its victims, and would further discuss the scope of the new inquiry with the group.

Commenting on the new claims, Cllr Watts said: “There’s going to be an investigation by a QC. This has come to us pretty recently. We want to respond to these allegations with openness and transparency and a lack of defensiveness.

“We will try our hardest to have the confidence of survivors in Islington, and will investigate what was clearly the darkest period in the council’s history.”

In 1990, then-council leader Margaret Hodge refused an inquiry when two social workers raised concerns over abuse in council-run children’s homes. In 1992, when the Standard published details of widespread abuse that led to a series of inquiries, Mrs Hodge described it as “a sensationalist piece of gutter journalism”.

Dr Liz Davies, a reader in child protection at London Metropolitan University in Holloway, and a former social worker in Islington who blew the whistle on abuse, said she had told Mrs Hodge personally of the allegations.

There have been 13 ­different Town Hall probes into the issues.

Cllr Watts said the new inquiry would report to himself and the Town Hall’s chief executive, but added that its findings would be made available to the national inquiry into child sexual abuse.

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