Daily Mirror, 21st May 1987
The Times, 28th July 2014
by Sean O’Neill
Theresa May faced calls last night to appoint a self-described “radical lawyer” as chairman of the public inquiry into high-profile child abuse cases.
A group of abuse survivors, lawyers and care professionals wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for Michael Mansfield QC to be selected to lead the inquiry.
Mr Mansfield, who is retired from the Bar, is renowned for his work on cases from the Birmingham Six appeals to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. He also represented Mohammed al Fayed at the inquest into the death of his son and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The letter states: “The chair of this inquiry will need fearlessness, to be prepared to challenge the authorities and to ask and get answers to very difficult questions. This is a role that can only be undertaken by someone clearly seen as outside the establishment.”
The authors include John Hemming MP, Peter Saunders, the head of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, former athlete and abuse victim Kris Akabusi and Mark Williams Thomas, the journalist who uncovered the Jimmy Savile scandal.
In the letter, they also called for the scope of the inquiry to be widened and said the current proposal would merely be a review which would not take evidence from victims of abuse. There is, however, concern that a broader public inquiry could jeopardise ongoing criminal investigations.
Police forces are currently engaged in 21 investigations into historic abuse allegations featuring prominent individuals or institutions.
Mrs May had originally appointed the retired judge Baroness Butler Sloss to lead the inquiry but her credibility was called into question because of her establishment links and after The Times revealed allegations that she had withheld the name of a Church of England bishop from a previous report because she “cared for the Church”.
The children’s charity Barnardo’s has also urged the Home Secretary to appoint a chairman for the inquiry as a matter of urgency.
Dear Theresa May
Re the proposed government inquiry into organised child abuse
As Butler-Sloss stated, the proposed government inquiry into organised child abuse needs to have the confidence of care and abuse survivors. It is for this reason that the view of many survivors and leading specialists in the area of child protection is that the most suitable candidate to chair the announced ‘Child Abuse Inquiry’ is Michael Mansfield QC.
The chair of this inquiry will need fearlessness, to be prepared to challenge the authorities and to ask and get answers to very difficult questions. This is a role that can only be undertaken by someone clearly seen as outside the establishment.
Mr Mansfield has shown with his work on the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the current Hillsborough inquiry that he has the respect of survivors and professionals to undertake this inquiry.
In addition to the need to have the correct chair – it is very disappointing that the proposed Terms of Reference (TOR), as set out by the Home Secretary, will, unless revised, render the Child Abuse Inquiry that she has announced almost worthless.
The Home Secretary has proposed an inquiry that will pull together previous reviews to produce a ‘Lessons learnt’ report – taking no evidence from individual victims.
This needs to be urgently reviewed and the TOR for this Inquiry must focus on the following three elements: 1) To hear evidence from survivors of organised abuse, which would finally give them a voice and allow them to be heard and believed 2) Set up a dedicated police team at the National Crime Agency to take evidence alongside the inquiry to investigate and prosecute offenders 3) To hold those that have failed in their professional duty or covered up allegations or been obstructive to account.
Having Mr Mansfield and revised Terms of Reference is the only way to secure justice for survivors and protection of our children.
Peter Saunders, CEO NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood)
Nze K.D. Akabusi MBE, QMSI ret , Executive Director The Akabusi Company
David Akinsanya, TV Producer
Mark Williams Thomas, TV Presenter, Criminologist & Child Protection Expert
Phil Frampton, Founding Chair, Care Leavers Association
Ann Davis, Emeritus Professor of Social Work and Mental Health, University of Birmingham
Dr Liz Davies, Reader in Child Protection, London Metropolitan University
John Cooper QC
Roger Kline, Research Fellow, Middlesex University Business School
Les Huckfield MP for Nuneaton 1967-83. MEP for Merseyside East 1984-89
John Hemming MP
Paul Gosling, Author: Abuse of Trust
Tracey Emmott, Director (Solicitor) Emmott Snell Solicitors
Dr Sarah Nelson, Child Abuse Researcher and Campaigner
Dr Philippa White, Director, Tuart Place
Caroline Carnot, Author & Founding Executive Care Leavers Association
Bobby Martin: Community & Gang Intervention Advisor
Will McMahon Deputy Director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
Anne Peake, CPsychol., FBPsS
Dr Kenneth McIntyre, CPsychol, AFBPsS
Chris Walker, Educational Psychologist PSI-UK
Dr Paul Redgrave, Director of Public Health, Barnsley 2004-09
Dr Valerie Sinason, Clinic for Dissociative Studies
Glenys Ingham, Headteacher
Di Roome, Retired Headteacher
Ken Jones, Education Leadership Consultant
Ed Nixon, Chief Executive, Family Care Associates
Brian Douieb, Former Leaving Care Social Work Manager
Peter McKelvie, Former Child Protection Team Manager
John Leech MP
IMPORTANT: Please contact Theresa May if you want Michael Mansfield QC to chair the inquiry.
Please email email@example.com if you have written to Theresa May endorsing the letter
There is also a petition here
Originally posted on theneedleblog:
I wonder what the names are of the ‘all-party group of MPs’ who campaigned for the release of paedophile William Pate ? Convicted of horrific crimes against children, and despite doctors at Broadmoor believing him to be ‘a danger and not fit for release’, the campaign was successful. In 1984 he was convicted yet again for paedophilia and ‘sadistic homosexual practices’ after imprisoning a young boy for 12 hours and abusing him.
I think it is a reasonable question to ask which MPs campaigned for his release, don’t you ?
From The Glasgow Herald
Since Butler-Sloss stepped down, all has gone rather quiet and the media has moved on to other stories. This can only be a temporarily lull and we can rely on the fact that there will be activity behind the scenes in the search for a replacement chair. It is a positive sign that we have learnt, for instance, that no chair will be appointed without consultation with the 7 MP’s who put the case to Theresa May for an Inquiry into Organised Child Abuse. Both the person of the chair and the remit of the inquiry are crucial to establishing the truth. Too many Inquiries have focussed on the performance of professionals and child protection arrangements and have avoided questions about whether or not children and adults were abused and whether or not the perpetrators had been brought to justice. It is also essential to include scrutiny of the role of the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts as final arbiters of decision-making. Already, we have learnt that it is not the intention of this Inquiry to consider individual cases. This is a seriously negative message to give to victims who were about to come forward with their specific accounts and this decision must be challenged. It is vastly different from the suggestion by the 7 MPs about what the Inquiry needed to address.
Experience of the inquiry process itself tells us that it rarely achieves justice for victims. It is a tried & tested instrument to allay public disquiet and has been likened to trying to learn about health via a visit to the mortuary. Some people do benefit – mainly those who service the process and help to maintain the status quo. For example, several of the barristers in the Cleveland inquiry such as the counsel to the Inquiry, Matthew Thorpe and Sally Cahill who represented Cleveland police, have gone on to become high court judges.
We do support the need for an Inquiry to investigate the many cover-ups at all levels and to examine and expose the way in which child sexual abuse became embedded within political systems. However, we also know that it is essential to establish a multi- agency investigation team to ensure that evidence which suggests that current children are at risk leads to action to protect those children and to prosecute and convict the perpetrators. This team must be established in parallel to the Inquiry and be kept fully informed at every step of the process.
Heather Bacon (Former Consultant Psychologist, North Tees Health Authority. Witness to the Cleveland Inquiry)
Sue Richardson (Former Child Abuse Consultant, Cleveland Social Services Department. Witness to the Cleveland Inquiry)
Marjorie Orr (Accuracy About Abuse)
Sarah Nelson, University of Edinburgh
A recent TV debate – on whether internet offenders who view images of child sex abuse are also likely to commit contact assaults – highlights claims which bemuse and concern many of us working with child sexual abuse (CSA).
Prof Richard Wortley, a criminologist and psychologist from University College London , said research suggested only a small minority went on to abuse children physically. But Jim Gamble, former chief executive of the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP), angrily pressed his conviction that a majority were dangerous to children in the “offline” world, and must be actively pursued. He called for “consistent and persistent investigations”.
The debate followed the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles in the UK after a six-month police operation targeted people accessing child abuse images online. The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the 660 included teachers, medical staff, former police, a social worker and scout leader. Tellingly, only 39 of the 650 were registered sex offenders. The rest had been under the radar.
Many of the offenders accessed the so-called “dark net”. Its content doesn’t appear on normal search engines. They often use virtual currencies to avoid detection, showing effort and commitment: offenders don’t stumble on those images after pressing the wrong button.
Prof Wortley is no apologist for sex crime, and of course agrees that internet offenders sustain a vast international child abuse industry – even by just looking. But numerous academic researchers, therapists working with offenders, and practitioners believe as he does, that only a small percentage also commit contact abuse against children. Jim Gamble, and those of us who agree with Jim, are the ones put on the defensive – always asked to prove our argument.
Current evidence exploring links between possession of online abuse images and offline sex offending against children is mixed and conflicting. Some studies suggest viewing indecent images of children is often a prelude to contact offences and an important risk factor. CEOP’s thematic assessment, (A Picture of Abuse, 2012) for instance found possession of online abuse images and online grooming were risk factors for contact sexual abuse of children. Other research refutes such a link, or finds small numbers of dual offenders. The second category appears to receive far more publicity and belief among practitioners.
I think it is no accident that wide professional acceptance of reduced seriousness in internet offending has coincided with the disturbing, confusing discovery that so many of these offenders proved to be respectable, middle class professional men with no criminal records. They have been “people like us”: deputy heads of schools, IT specialists, health administrators, medics, accountants and more. This explosion of upright, hidden citizens was unexpected: not on our risk assessments , not on our tick-lists of typical sex offenders. There is a strong temptation to feel: “they cannot surely be so bad”. But this allows dangerous people freedom. Also, as numbers have so spiralled, there are far too many for the system to deal with. It is simply overwhelmed. So some way must be found to minimise the dangerousness of many. But doing that is not the way to answer a genuine social problem.
Consider some frequent assumptions, and then our assumptions, and ask which seem more promising hypotheses – given what we already know about sex offenders against children. Of course this process (of asking what is likely ) is not infallible. But it’s useful to include it, just to keep our feet on the ground!
Take the assumption so often heard about timelines. An assumption without actual evidence, except via the repeated excuses of offenders who get caught. From frequent phrases like ”go on to view stronger images” or “go on to abuse physically” it’s widely assumed that these men (internet offenders are overwhelmingly men) start by viewing adult images, or simply by pressing the wrong button while they surf. They are then drawn in by curiosity to view child abuse images instead. Then to nastier child abuse images; then they might eventually “go on” to abuse a child.
Does this timeline sound convincing to you? Or back to front, somehow? It’s insulting to many men, for a start – that while watching adult porn, or accidentally clicking on child abuse websites as they try to consult Trip Advisor, they suddenly discover some deepseated urge- unrealised all their lives- to view shocking images of children, toddlers and babies being sexually abused, tortured or made victims of bestiality. Then they discover this unrealised urge to masturbate repeatedly- let’s not mince words or conceal- night after night to these increasingly foul acts. All without the urge to try it out on a real child.
Isn’t it much more likely that those who access abuse images of children on the internet are already sexually attracted to children, already seek sexual gratification from watching sexual abuse, and have actively sought out these images, often at some effort? That most therefore do represent active risk to children? That the middle class professional ones who have now been caught out are all those fathers and teachers and doctors, all those sports coaches, foster parents, residential care managers and TV celebrities that survivors of CSA have tried to tell us for decades were their own abusers? Who tried to tell us time and again that their abusers used pornography, and made them act it out? The first adult survivor I ever knowingly met was upper class, and the first victim who came to her support group had been abused by a “foster father of the year”.
I think the disturbing new statistics may simply reflect more closely the actual numbers of abusers who have always existed, but who previously had far less opportunity or technology to view abuse images. Spiralling numbers may simply be reducing the huge disparity between numbers of offenders identified in the criminal justice system till recently, and the high prevalence of child sexual abuse revealed retrospectively by adult survivors. These numbers and the social class range are very disturbing to many people, but survivors and their supporters had to face the truth long ago. It is time policymakers addressed the scale of prevention and protection which they therefore need to prioritise.
The claim that men who get sexual gratification and excitement from repeatedly viewing sexual assaults on young children are not likely to want to abuse children offline is at root just a hope, with little convincing evidence. I am sure those who repeat this optimistic assessment would not let any of these people babysit their own children. Evidence from studies which suggest low risk is not convincing to me for two reasons. First, it relies heavily on follow-up of known and recorded sexual offences. But most sexual offences are carried out in secret, and will never be known, or if seen will not be reported. Why after all did nearly all the recent 660 stay under the radar all their lives?
Secondly, evidence that internet offenders have resisted contact abuse could only be convincing if their previous, present or future victim targets were a) identified by the authorities and b) able to speak up and tell the truth about whether they had been offended against or not. But most children cannot tell, or are not believed when they do. Going again by what we know of sex offenders, they often offend compulsively and indeed the collection of vast quantities of abuse images suggests compulsive behaviour. So we need to ask how realistic it is that they would so drastically change their behaviour that, for instance as in the Seto & Eke study (2005) “ those (internet) offenders with no prior criminal record …had a contact sexual offense only 1.3% of the time…(and) only one of the offenders with only child pornography offenses committed a later contact sexual offense in the follow-up period.”
I concede that one group of people- mainly men, some women- may be viewing abuse images of children without abusing in the “real world”. This is a group of sexually abused young people and adults, who have retained their empathy to others, but who through confused post-traumatic reaction are drawn to replay repeatedly acts perpetrated against themselves, without gaining resolution of that trauma. Often they will feel extremely guilty, their self-esteem further shattered. It’s important that skilled help is available to them and that they feel able to ask for it, for they help sustain the international trade in child abuse, and their trauma remains unresolved. But their own pain is not a reason to excuse internet offenders as a whole, nor to downplay the wider risks to children.
I believe we should join campaigners like Jim Gamble in calling- as CEOP did in their 2012 study A Picture of Abuse– for proactive investigation of “possession offending” and for more specialist police investigative units, which are actually properly staffed and equipped. And at the forefront of all the investigations, they urge, “ should be the notion that any case may result in the identification of a victim of contact sexual abuse”.
Following his presentation to the Home Office of two dossiers about sexual crimes against children, Geoffrey Dickens raised concerns about ‘child brothels’ being run on an Islington Council Estate. In 1986, he spoke of tenants providing him with tape recordings of children screaming during ‘sex sessions’ and mentioned 40 child victims some as young as 6. He also identified three premises and reported matters to Scotland Yard and Douglas Hurd the Home Secretary. These allegations were denied at the time by the Director of Social Services. Yet, in the very area where Dickens was highlighting his concerns, the decomposed body of a girl of 17 was found in a cupboard in a block of council flats. She was said to have been strangled during oral sex after being at a ‘sex party’. This was in 1988 when, as a social work manager in the area, I was hearing rumours of children in the care system being murdered. I remembered the girl’s name being whispered and made a note but have only recently acquired the press cuttings about her going missing and then being found murdered. I do not know if Vivian Loki was in the Islington care system because no-one is interested in finding out. I have reported this case repeatedly to various authorities since the early 90s.
Another whisper, also scribbled in my hand written notes at the time, was of a thirteen year old boy Anthony McGrane (I had recorded his name as McGrath and his age as 9 years – perhaps this was another child – I do not know). Anthony was found dead in a garage. This time the press cuttings said that he had been a resident in Conewood Street Assessment Centre. If this was true then this was the same children’s home where residential workers had told me that Jason Swift had lived shortly before he was murdered by Sidney Cooke and his gang. At the time of the Islington Inquiries in the 90s, Jason’s residence in an Islington home was also denied by the senior Islington manager. Anthony died of multiple stab wounds. My notes stated a different garage location from the one in the newspapers. Perhaps my information was flawed. Police at the time said that his death may have been linked to 16 other child killings. In both these cases men were convicted of manslaughter and each served 6 years imprisonment.
In the early 90s, when I exposed the extensive abuse of Islington children in the care system, I began to hear accounts of other child murders. Managers, who must have known of these previous cases, accused me of being obsessional and hysterical and tried to stop my investigations. I have recently learnt that orders came from a senior police officer to close the investigations down. I do not know if anyone has a current interest in knowing who that officer was and of course by now he may not even be alive. The social work manager who told me to forget my work with police at that time needs to be called to account with many others who continued to work within the profession and were never asked to explain their absolute disregard for the safety of children. At the time of the Islington Inquiries some staff left the country returning in later years to resume their careers.
In the absence of police investigation, I have continued to raise my concerns through the twenty-plus years but there has never been a national overview of the connections that went way beyond Islington borders. I have no doubt that children were marketed for sexual exploitation to children’s homes all over the country and I have long argued for a national police and social work investigation team. However, instead of improving child protection systems they have been steadily eroded. Joint police and social work child protection teams have long been closed down and in 2013, revised statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, completely eliminated the definition of organised abuse and the means of investigating it. I was horrified. Who exactly was responsible for this policy change?
This is why I want a National Inquiry into organised child abuse. I have struggled to get such cases investigated for many years and got nowhere. I want to know the reason for that. I want to know who was responsible for shredding my files on 61 child victims which were unavailable to the Inquiries. I want to know why so many of the Islington staff who supported the abusers and colluded in the cover ups went on to senior social work posts. I do not know who the 32 social services staff were that, following the Inquiry, were not allowed to work with children but I have certainly located two members of staff who tried to protect children, found their names on the list and were unable to continue their careers. I want to know how such an injustice could happen to good people and no-one be brought to task over it. Only recently I obtained a report of an Inquiry to which I had presented evidence. Nothing of my 4 hour contribution featured in it. The authors of that Inquiry need to be called to account.
Those MPs who have not signed up to the need for a National Inquiry are under scrutiny. Margaret Hodge, former labour lead in Islington who did not believe my reports of abuse networks has not so far stated her position. In her defence, she often said that she was misled by her senior officers. I want to know if, when she realised she had been misinformed, she reported these so called professionals to the relevant regulatory bodies and to police. I want answers. I have waited a long time. Now, through social media, adult survivors are coming forward adding to my knowledge of what happened in the Islington care homes. They also want answers . Most of them have waited far longer than me.
Dr Liz Davies
Reader in Child Protection
London Metropolitan University