Margaret Hodge became leader of Islington in 1982 and stayed in the job until 1992 when it became apparent, due to exposure by whistleblowers working with the Evening Standard, that every one of Islington’s eleven children’s homes was staffed by members of a paedophile network who were sexually abusing children in care, and were involved in prostitution, child trafficking, and the trade in images of child abuse.
In a recent Guardian interview, Margaret Hodge attempted to talk her way out of responsibility for the child abuse scandal at Islington Council: All that happened when we didn’t really understand child abuse in the way that we understand it now. This was the early 90s … It was only beginning to emerge that paedophiles were working with children, in children’s homes and elsewhere, and so I think my great regret there was believing without question the advice that I was given by the social services managers.
This isn’t what really happened. Hodge was told about a paedophile network operating in Islington’s children’s homes, but she refused to listen.
Margaret Hodge is also silent about how her policies directly enabled paedophiles to work with children and escape detection. Islington Council’s Equal Opportunities policy was unveiled in August 1983.
It promised “positive action” to recruit gay staff, gave an assurance that all council jobs would be open to gay applicants – including the sensitive area of work with children, promised that nobody would be put at a disadvantage if they came out as gay at work, and pledged ‘adequate redress’ to any lesbian or gay man who was subjected to “any harassment, whether physical or verbal” by members of the public or fellow workers…
…Job advertisements will in future carry an announcement that Islington Council does not discriminate against lesbians and gay men, and will invite them to apply.
Labour councillor Bob Crossman was the only person to speak in the “debate” on the proposals, after the policy had been proposed formally by Council Leader Margaret Hodge.
On the face of it, this was an honourable policy, setting out to give protection to an oppressed minority. And why shouldn’t gays be able to work with children, surely they weren’t they any more likely to abuse children than heterosexuals?
Unfortunately, things weren’t what they seemed. The gay liberation movement had been infiltrated by paedophiles as early as 1975. There were paedophiles posing as gay men and hiding behind the gay rights banner to avoid detection. The largest and most influential organisation in the gay rights movement was the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). At their national conference in Sheffield in 1975 they voted to give paedophiles a bigger role in the gay rights movement. CHE were affilated to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), who campaigned for the age of consent to be reduced to 4, which would effectively legalise paedophilia. Copies of PIE’s manifesto were sold at CHE conferences.
This association between the gay rights movement and paedophiles carried on for years, and was still going strong in 1983 when Margaret Hodge decided to proactively hire gays (and therefore paedophiles) to work with children at Islington Council. In September 1983, Capital Gay reported that CHE had “stepped up support for the Paedophile Information Exchange”.
It’s hard to believe that Margaret Hodge wasn’t aware that the gay rights movement had been infiltrated by paedophiles, and that many ostensibly ‘gay’ men were in fact paedophiles. Her late husband, Henry Hodge, was chairman of the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) since 1974, and the NCCL were affiliated to the Paedophile Information Exchange. In 1978, the Protection of Children Bill was put before Parliament, and the NCCL’s official response stated that images of child abuse should only be considered ‘indecent’ if it could be proved that the child had suffered harm. The document was signed by the NCCL’s legal officer, Harriet Harman, who along with her husband Jack Dromey (also an NCCL official), were close friends of the Hodges.
The council’s policy also stated that any gay man (and therefore also a paedophile who claimed he was gay) would be protected from harassment. This meant that staff members who made allegations of child abuse against gay (or paedophile) members of staff would be accused of harassment, and any disciplinary action was dropped. This also meant that staff that should have been investigated had ‘clean’ ecords and were allowed to gon on and abuse children at other children’s homes after they left Islington.
From The White Report, 1995: “…it is apparent from this analysis that the London Borough of Islington did not in most cases undertake the standard investigative processes that should have been triggered when they occurred. It is possible, therefore that some staff now not in the employment of Islington could be working in the field of Social Services with a completely clean disciplinary record and yet have serious allegations still not investigated in their history.” The report went on to say that Islington Council was “paralysed by equal opportunity“, and “the policy of positive discrimination in Islington has had serious unintended consequences in allowing some staff to exploit children for their own purposes.”
Islington Council had adopted another policy the previous year which meant that any firms wanting a grant or loan from the council would have to “produce evidence of their commitment not to discriminate against gay staff”. This meant that companies associated with Islington’s children’s homes would also have difficulty reporting paedophiles without being accused of homophobia. This may explain how one of the staffing agencies used by Islington Council had also been infiltrated by paedophiles.
Islington was probably the first council to implement a policy that made it easier for paedophiles to work with children. In September 1983 it looked like Islington were influencing Lambeth Council to implement the same policy. Lambeth also went on to have a paedophile network operating in its children’s homes, over 200 children were believed to have been abused.