In 1992, the Evening Standard published allegations about widespread sexual abuse in children’s homes run by Islington council. It said every home contained staff who were paedophiles, pimps, or child pornographers. The leader of Islington council, Margaret Hodge, dismissed the story as “gutter journalism”, and accused Evening Standard journalists of waiting outside homes to bribe children for their stories with £50 notes.
This led to a whole series of inquiries, most of which were conducted by Islington council themselves and were not to be taken seriously. The Evening Standard kept the pressure on Islington council, reprinting stories and also making fresh allegations, until an independent, external inquiry was announced, led by Ian White, the head of Cambridgeshire Social Services.
In 1995 the White inquiry published its findings, which proved the Evening Standard right about its allegations. This was despite Islington council’s best efforts to frustrate the inquiry and cover their tracks, including hundreds of vital files going missing. There was one allegation, however, that the White report didn’t support. Social workers had identified 61 children who were thought to be involved in “organised, network abuse”:
Islington police were asked to investigate allegations of a wider paedophile network and report back to the White inquiry, but they concluded “there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation of network abuse at that time”.
This is hardly surprising given the number of files that had disappeared from Islington Council’s archives. It’s also likely that the police weren’t allowed to properly investigate organised paedophile networks. Off the record, the police admitted as much:
The police agree at least three of the men we highlighted belong to child sex rings. But they simply don’t have the resources to investigate. (from Eileen Fairweather article ‘Passport to Perversion‘)
A Sunday Times article from August 1993 said that there was evidence of a wider paedophile ring:
Britain’s biggest police inquiry into organised sexual abuse of children has been launched by Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad.
The investigation into networks of paedophiles who have been paying for sex with boys and girls, has uncovered several groups across London and other parts of southern England who link up to swap information and abuse children. For the past five months officers from the squad have secretly liaised with directors of social services in more than half a dozen London boroughs amid fears that organised gangs have targeted vulnerable children in their areas.
Several of the most prominent offenders under surveillance are wealthy businessmen. They have been linked to a sex ring abusing young people living in children’s homes in the London borough of Islington.
The police inquiry has produced evidence that the north London borough has been a magnet for child molesters over the past few years, as a result of the council’s lax control over the young people in its charge.
As far as I’m aware the police investigation didn’t lead to any convictions. If there had been arrests, it would have been covered in the national media. It’s very possible that the investigation was stopped, just as the Peter Righton investigation was stopped a year later. The whole sequence of events is shrouded in secrecy, and only a few key insiders like Michael Hames, then head of Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad, could say what really happened. Another person who would know what happened is Michael Howard, the Home Secretary at the time, who had overall responsibility for policing.
The missing files were very convenient for those in Islington council who wanted the paedophile scandal to go away. In those files lay the only hard evidence showing which could have led to connections with other paedophile rings across the UK.
There are several indications that Islington was connected to a wider paedophile network. In 1986 an Islington council social worker, Abraham Jacob, was jailed for his part in a paedophile ring that supplied young boys to the notorious ‘Meat Rack’ in London’s Piccadilly Circus. The arrest was part of a long police investigation called Operation Circus that ended up convicting fifteen men for sexually exploiting children.
In November 1985, fourteen year old Jason Swift was murdered by Sidney Cooke and other members of his paedophile ring. Jason was a runaway and had been homeless for around 6 months before he died, so his exact whereabouts were unknown. Years later, the journalist Eileen Fairweather was told by two separate sources that Jason stayed at Islington council’s Conewood Street home. Islington council cannot confirm this as the records showing who stayed at Conewood Street have also gone missing.
Due to the missing files, nobody can check which local authorities Islington sent children to, but some evidence remains in the form of statements from children who were in Islington’s care.
At least one boy was taken to New Barns School, an independent boarding school in Gloucestershire, where paedophile and PIE member Peter Righton was governor, and where Righton’s partner Richard Alston was headmaster. Alston resigned as headmaster after Righton’s 1992 conviction for importing child pornography. A music teacher at New Barns School, Alan Stewart, was convicted of sexually abusing girls in 1994. Despite allegations of widespread sexual abuse at New Barns School, the CPS decided there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.
After Righton’s 1992 conviction, he and his partner Richard Alston were invited to stay at Lord Henniker’s estate in Eye, Suffolk. Righton lived there until his death in 1996. Lord Henniker’s estate was run as a ‘children’s activity centre’, and Islington council had been sending children there for years.
These Peter Righton connections are deeply sinister. Righton had risen to the top of the social work establishment and had powerful connections in residential care homes across the UK. Before the Righton investigation was stopped in 1994, it was described as “one of the biggest child abuse inquiries ever involving police and social services from across the country co-ordinated by Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad. They ae investigating a network of gay intellectuals who are believed to have run child sex rings for decades through schools and children’s homes.”(read more)
Nick Rabet was deputy supervisor at Islington council’s Grosvenor Avenue home. Rabet was widely suspected to be a paedophile, and despite many allegations, Islington never took the proper steps of having him investigated. Rabet was born in Jersey, and often took children there on unauthorised trips from Islington children’s homes.
After Rabet left Islington he set up a ‘children’s recreational centre’ at a country house near Heathfield, East Sussex. Islington council sent many children there for days out. One of Rabet’s circle, Neil Hocquart, became a ‘volunteer’ at the centre. Hocquart was from Guernsey, and killed himself in 1991 after being raided by police and found with over 100 child-sex videos and 300 photographs of naked boys. One of the boys was a 10 year old in Islington’s care.
Rabet and Hocquart were “networkers”, involved in the supply of children for pornography and abuse. Hocquart was connected to a powerful Jersey paedophile ring, which included an aristocrat, clerics and a social services chief. A list of members of this paedophile ring was given to Scotland Yard & NCIS on 4th January 1996, but the information was never acted on.
Other than Rabet, at least two other Islington social workers were also from Jersey. It seems unlikely that so many Jersey social workers would end up working in north London by coincidence alone.
When the East Sussex activity centre started attracting attention from the police, Rabet fled to the notorious Pattaya resort in Thailand, where he was eventually charged with abusing local boys, some as young as six years old. He was found dead in May 2006, Thai police said it was suicide but the details of his death sounded suspicious:
A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that a British citizen had been found dead, adding: “Local police believe the death to be suicide.” He had a plastic bag over his head and his wrists locked to his ankles, according to a report in Thailand’s Nation newspaper. (read more)
As leader of Islington Council, Margaret Hodge was responsible for allowing children in Islington council’s care to be preyed on by paedophiles. Unbelievably, Tony Blair made her Children’s Minister in 2003. The Islington child abuse scandal came back to haunt her and she was attacked in the media but refused to resign. Watch Hodge grin and lie her way through this 2003 TV interview:
Expect more denials and excuses from Margaret Hodge if the Peter Righton file that’s now being investigated proves that Islington council was central to a vast paedophile network.