Hackney’s tainted chiefs ‘will be axed’ (08.01.98)

Evening Standard, 8th January 1998

It is understood that after the next local elections in May, group leader John McCafferty will be quietly replaced by a figure untainted by any of the borough’s chaotic past.

 The news comes as Health Minister Paul Boateng called an urgent meeting with all Hackney group leaders to discuss the whole affair tomorrow.

 Mr McCafferty and his senior allies were not named directly in yesterday’s report into the borough’s paedophile scandal by

 troubleshooter John Barratt. However, Mr Barratt made clear that Hackney’s “vicious, poisonous and personality-based” politics were at the heart of the failure to suspend and properly investigate the HIV-positive social worker Mark Trotter.

 There was no evidence of a political cover-up, but Mr Barratt’s inquiry found that a “climate of fear” at the town hall contributed to social services officers’ reluctance to discipline Trotter, a Labour Party activist who died in 1995 of Aids.

 Despite Mr Barratt’s scathing criticisms of the culture that had existed for years within Hackney, Mr McCafferty has refused to resign and is expected to lead the party into May’s elections.

 As Mr McCafferty was deputy council leader until 1990 and leader from 1990 to 1995, and again from 1996 to now, senior Labour sources have made clear that behind-the-scenes moves are being prepared to install a new broom after May.

 Much of the current calibre of Hackney Labour councillors is seen as too weak and tainted by controversy to take over the task and the national party is pinning its hopes on the new intake selected for the forthcoming elections. Among new fig-

 elections. Among new figures being groomed for leadership are the Greater London Labour Party vice-chair Loraine Monk and local party officer David Mannion. Other prospective new councillors include young professionals whom the party hopes will take on positions of power as Hackney is transformed in the next five years.

 “We desperately need new blood in Hackney and the new councillors should allow us to make a clean start,” a source said. “We’ve got to make the most of the good people already in place, but people like McCafferty just have too much history.”


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