Evening Standard, 7th August 1995
By Stewart Payne & Eileen Fairweather
NICHOLAS Rabet should never work with children. His name is on the Government’s Consultancy Register, a danger list of those thought to be unsafe to work with young people. But because he has been running a privately owned activity centre for teenagers, albeit used by local authorities, children’s charities, schools and families, that Government sanction is powerless. Rabet used to be deputy head of an Islington children’s home. The Evening Standard discovered, as part of its investigation into child welfare in the Labour-controlled borough, that Rabet ha been accused of sexually abusing a boy in his care and was linked to convicted paedophiles. The newspaper’s investigation, which highlighted how children were at risk while in Islington’s care, was supported by a series of independent reports. Two months ago, in the final and most damning report of all, Ian White, head of Oxfordshire Social Services, confirmed that many former Islington staff had been under suspicion of a range of misconduct, including abuse, but had not been properly investigated.
His shocking conclusions supported a central theme of the Evening Standard inquiry, namely that political correctness and a rigid adherence to equal opportunities policies had stifled proper investigation of those under suspicion. Most of these staff had now left to take up work elsewhere, some with children. He urged every local authority in the land employing former Islington staff to check back with the borough, where a new administration has promised to thoroughly investigate their backgrounds. Last week we revealed how two London social workers, formerly with Islington, were now under investigation by their current employers. We reported how four of those named in a confidential section of the White report are now on the Health Department’s Consultancy Register and at least 11 others are to follow. This register is used by local authorities as a means of preventing employing those thought unsuitable to work with children. But today we reveal how men like Rabet have nothing to fear from this list because it does not apply to the private sector.
NICHOLAS JOHN RABET, aged 46, has come a long way since he left Islington after 15 years as the deputy head of an inner-city children’s home. He now lives on a vast estate in rural East Sussex, left to him in the will of an elderly widow he befriended, and where he has been running an activity centre for children. Youngsters taken there as a treat by parents had a great time. Boys in particular enjoyed rides on junior motorbikes, across fields and through mud splshes, or pitting their skills on the high-tech computer games. Mothers and fathers who met the reassuring Nick Rabet were happy to entrust their children to his care. Local families allowed their sons to work at the centre at weekends.
But the Evening Standard has uncovered the sinister side of Rabet and The Stables Activity Centre at Cross in Hand, near Heathfield, where he and his paedophile friends have courted the company of young boy helpers, leading to serious allegations of sexual abuse. Rabet was already under suspicion while still at Islington, due to his intense involvement with a boy we will call Shane. Bachelor Rabet, who continued to be employed despite a drug conviction, regularly took him away at weekends, in defiance of an ineffective ban. The boy was vulnerable and disturbed, having been placed in care at the age of nine following his mother’s breakdown. He knew no better than to trust Rabet. The boy’s headmaster, his psychiatrist, his mother and Rabet’s own colleagues all expressed their fears to Islington senior managers, saying they mistrusted the relationship. It was only after Rabet had resigned his job at Islington without thorough investigation and begun running The Stables Centre that Shane spoke up about his ‘friendship’ with his carer.
Shane alleges he was repeatedly abused by Rabet. Both in his Islington children’s home and at The Stables Rabet had showered him with gifts of sweets, cigarettes and money and plied him with alcohol. In return the impressionable boy said he had been used for Rabet’s sexual gratification. Shane has alleged the abuse in both a statement to police and in an interview with the Evening Standard.
SHANE, of course, grew up and was no longer the target of Rabet’s attention. He was discarded. He is now in his early 20s and consumed with a volatile mixture of anger and guilt over what he says was done to him during his time in care at Islington. Predictably his life is in turmoil – he has been in and out of prison and his prospects are bleak. No such ill fortune has beset Nick Rabet. While still working at Islington he had met an elderly and very wealthy widow living alone on an estate at Cross in Hand. Rabet went to live in a cottage on her land and opened up The Stables Centre after leaving Islington in 1989. He later became the main beneficiary of her will.
And here, the Evening Standard has discovered, Rabet has continued to pursue his interest in young boys. The Stables was used by local authorities, children’s charities, schools and families, unaware of Rabet’s background. When the Evening Standard first investigated Rabet’s activities we discovered he was also the focus of a police inquiry.
In 1991 Cambridgeshire police had staged a raid on the homes of two paedophiles, 40-year-old Neil Hocquart and his friend Walter Clack, now 73. Pervert Hocquart, a photographer, had been abusing boys around the country for many years, including a boy he met at Rabet’s Stables Centre.
Before police had the chance to question him, he took a lethal overdose of tranquillisers and died hours later in hospital.
His friend Clack, a former assistant to one-time Bank of England governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton, was arrested as he tried to dispose of hundreds of photographs of children and a sick home-made video film of a child being abused by a middle-aged man. He was later fined £5,000 for possessing child pornography. Further police inquiries revealed that Hocquart was a friend of Rabet’s and a regular visitor to The Stables Centre in which he had invested £13,000 to help Rabet buy equipment.
THIS led officers to raid Rabet’s cottage adjoining the centre. Police found his untidy home full of photographs of young boys, many of them taken without their knowledge in playgrounds and on beaches getting changed into swimming costumes. Rabet also had scores of photographs taken of children who visited his centre. Gay porn magazines were scattered under his bed and inside one was a loose photograph of a boy with an erection. They also found clothing belonging to the Isington boy Shane and photographs of him semi-undressed, sitting on his social worker’s knee and drinking alcohol. Rabet was arrested and placed on police bail. It was discovered that Rabet had recruited many young boys to work as volunteers at his activity centre and one of them later admitted to police that Hocquart had abused him.
The boys were there with the full permission of their parents who, unaware of the risks, were happy for their children to spend free time under Rabet’s supervision.
Some had even been sent to the centre by a friend of Rabet’s, another former Islington social worker, then working for East Sussex social services.
HOCQUART had his own key to the centre and made regular visits, sometimes with his paedophile friend Clack, known to the boys as Wally. One of the boys is a lad we will call Dominic. His parents had no reason to mistrust the convincing and ever-charming Rabet and they were not worried when their son became friendly with Hocquart.
At the time Dominic was just 11 years old and, together with friends, had answered an advert in a local paper placed by Rabet looking for helpers. Soon Hocquart was taking Dominic away for trips in his sports car and obtained permission from his parents to take him on holiday. Hocquart had carefully worked his way into a position of trust, befriending the parents as well as their son.
Paedophiles take their time with children they are attracted to, building up a relationship and winning their confidence and affection. Eventually Hocquart was able to persuade Dominic to pose naked for him, photographs which later were to be distributed to the international paedophile network through contacts in Amsterdam.
It didn’t end there. In time Dominic was taking part in sex acts with Hocquart. In return he was given money, gifts and even a motorbike to ride at The Stables. On holidays, Hocquart took videos. Carefully edited, he would send copies to Dominic’s parents showing their son having a great time. Unedited versions reveal a sickening performance between a middle-aged man and a child larking about in swimming costumes and with Hocquart and other male companions aiming water pistols at the boy’s genitals, accompanied by lewd jokes. In fact Hocquart was so taken with his young companion that he left him a third share in his will, money which Dominic has since inherited following Hocquart’s suicide after the police raid.
There is no evidence that Rabet ever took any steps to restrict Hocquart’s access to his centre or to Dominic. Indeed, through his friendship with Hocquart, Rabet is linked to a wider network of child abusers, many in the arts, even the church.
The old lady has now died, Rabet inheriting her extensive home, reported to have been since sold for £400,000. He still lives in the cottage. For the time being at least, he has closed down the activity centre, and has recently enjoyed holidays in Thailand.
Police never had the chance to convict Hocquart. His death from an overdose put paid to that. Rabet was considered for prosecution but no further action was taken.
The allegation by the Islington boy was uncorroborated and in such cases it is notoriously difficult to obtain a conviction. The identity of the boy with the erection in the photograph was not known and he could not be aged. In any event, Rabet claimed the picture belonged to a dead friend.
WHEN the Evening Standard first called at Rabet’s cottage he slammed the door in our faces. Later his solicitor claimed that, after leaving Islington, Rabet had set up The Stables as an activity centre to benefit problem children. His statement admitted a police investigation followed a ‘serious allegation’ by an Islington boy but added: ‘The allegation was untrue. Our client co-operated fully with the police inquiry which he believes has totally cleared him from the allegation.’