[back] Haut de la Garenne inquiry Margaret Hodge

Haut de la Garenne: Why abuse on this level could happen again


Last updated at 23:29 25 February 2008


My mouth went dry and my fists clenched when I heard about the remains found in Jersey.

I felt sorrow and rage that police are once again belatedly investigating a huge paedophile ring based on care home kids, and expect to dig up more bodies.

A ring of evil men exploited the most vulnerable children imaginable for up to 40 years, and no one stopped them.

Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey

Haut de la Garenne: Despite numerous cries for help, children continued to be abused in the Jersey home for decades

It is emerging now that the victims repeatedly begged for help. Why did no one listen?

I have a pretty good idea why not, given how viciously the politically-correct establishment silenced me about the similar paedophile ring which raped me.

I was sexually abused by two male workers in children's homes in Islington, North London, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was unusual, a kid who did not seek escape through drugs or suicide.

But I did run away and never again attended school. I spent my days at my local library, educated myself and went on to university, desperately hoping I could make someone listen. No-one did.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, I wrote reports on my abusers, demanding an inquiry.

In 1992, I even lobbied Margaret Hodge's office - she was then council leader - and met her stand-in, Stephen Twigg, now also a Labour MP. He did nothing.

The truth only emerged thanks to a three-year newspaper campaign which revealed that all of Islington's 12 children's homes were run by, or included, staff who were paedophiles, child pornographers or pimps.

How did this come about? Child care was - and remains - underpaid and undervalued. Sadists easily acquire jobs when no one else wants them.

But there was another insidious factor in Islington - one which I fear leaves other children at equal risk today.


Sex attacker Edward Paisnel abused many children before convicted and was a regular visitor at the children's home

The far-Left council had actively recruited men who claimed to be gay to run its homes, and declared that "gays" did not even need references or professional training or experience.

But the men who flocked forward were not gay - they were paedophiles.

A 1995 Government-ordered inquiry confirmed that no action was taken against these evil men because "the equal opportunities environment, driven from the personnel perspective, became a positive disincentive for bad practice".

In plain English, anyone who raised abuse concerns about the men running its children's homes was "anti gay".

And I was written off as "insane".

In 2003, when Tony Blair shocked many by appointing Margaret Hodge as Children's Minister, she tried to halt a media investigation into her Islington history by claiming I was "extremely disturbed".

She eventually had to apologise to me in the High Court. I was by then a Government adviser, producing reports for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

In Jersey, the victims now coming forward are said to be furious that their earlier pleas for help were ignored. Murder was committed, but no one lifted a finger.

I have always believed only the surface of the corruption in Islington was scraped. An immensely brave social worker who blew the whistle on the scandal told me early on that other victims talked of children being killed. But they were too afraid to give details. None of those allegations was ever investigated.

Let us not kid ourselves that such horrors could never happen again. People may be more vigorously vetted, and complaints taken more seriously, but paedophiles can offend against hundreds before they acquire a criminal record because children are easy to intimidate and ensnare.

The Islington scandal should have shamed social workers out of naive political correctness, but it has not.

Children today in need of care are most likely to be placed with foster parents, rather than in homes.

That does not mean there is no risk, just that victims are more isolated. Consider how many councils now boast of their active commitment to recruiting gay foster carers.

Are they bright and brave enough to distinguish between genuine gay men - who would not dream of hurting children - and paedophiles who cynically hide behind the gay rights banner?

I am not convinced - I know of one foster care manager jailed in 2005 for the sexual abuse of boys in care.

Scandalously, the council responsible - one of Britain's most gay-friendly - has still held no inquiry into whether he was recruiting other paedophile friends as "carers".

So how can anyone be sure the children he placed are safe?