Community Care, 18th November 1982
Two fifteen year old boys were charged with the rape of a thirteen year old girl which happened “with the apparent acquiescence of staff” at Islington Council’s Conewood Street Assessment Centre. When the case came to court, the jury accepted their not guilty plea to the rape charge but found them guilty of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16.
An internal investigation found no wrongdoing by staff, although Islington’s internal investigations never found any wrongdoing by staff.
John Picton, who kidnapped a 13 year old boy from Islington’s Elwood Street home in 1983, formerly worked at Conewood Street. And 14 year old Jason Swift stayed at Conewood Street in the months leading up to his death.
All this happened while Margaret Hodge was leader of Islington Council (1982-1992).
Margaret Hodge recently tried to explain her total failure to protect children in care from paedophile rings, prostitution, and trafficking by saying “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”. (Guardian 27/04/13)
Islington Gazette, 22nd March 1990
Dr Morris Fraser aka Roderick Fraser was a member of the Paedophile information Exchange (PIE), and was involved in child abuse networks across the UK and overseas. He was a founder of the Azimuth Trust charity which sent young boys on sailing holidays as a front for a paedophile ring. He was also one of eight men charged in New York as part of an organised abuse network.
Fraser worked as a child psychiatrist in Belfast at a time when a paedophile ring was abusing children in care at Kincora Boys’ Home and other Northern Ireland children’s homes. Although he was never officially implicated in abuse at Kincora, there seems to have been organised child sexual abuse ocurring wherever he lived or worked. The General Medical Council knew of Fraser abusing children in the early 1970s following ‘an incident’ with a young boy, but allowed him to carry on practicing as long as he switched to working with old people.
Fraser lived in Islington in 1990, at a time when paedophile networks had infiltrated Islington children’s homes. Although this may just be coincidence as he was working at University College Hospital, it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t other motives for his move to London. As the second article below shows, he had also travelled to Turkey, Holland and Denmark to abuse children.
Another PIE member, Peter Righton, is connected to Islington via the Islington-Suffolk Project, which sent children in care on holidays to Lord Henniker’s estate in Eye, Suffolk. Righton and his partner were invited to live on Lord Henniker’s estate after Righton’s 1992 conviction for importing images of child abuse. Righton also sat on a steering committee which advised on training for staff working with disturbed children, alongside John Rea Price, Islington’s Director of Social Services.
Islington Gazette, 25th January 1990
Childline was founded by Esther Rantzen in 1986, and was intended as a telephone hotline for children to report abuse. It has been heavily criticised for failing to expose widespread organised abuse in schools and children’s homes across the UK.
In 2006 Childline merged with the NSPCC, another children’s charity that has been accused of not doing enough to expose child abuse, not to mention its links with the paedophile Jimmy Savile.
But the idea for Childline was not new. A similar service was first operated by an organisation called Voice of the Child in Care in 1979, but concentrated solely on children in care in the London area. Like Childline, it seems to have had very little impact in exposing the paedophile networks that had infiltrated children’s homes.
We now know that paedophile networks operated in almost every London borough, but the most notorious of these are Islington and Lambeth, where every single home had been infiltrated by child abusers. Voice of the Child in Care (VCC) had connections with both these boroughs. The Director of Islington’s Social Services department, John Rea Price, was a member of VCC, as was a Lambeth social worker called Hugh Geach. Another prominent member of VCC was Len Davis, who held many dubious views and was associated with Peter Righton, a renowned child care expert who was later exposed as being a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, and part of a network of paedophiles who preyed on boys in schools and children’s homes across the UK. Len Davis believed in the abolition of the age of consent, wrote of children “seducing” adult residential workers, and advised against reporting sexual abuse in children’s homes if the abuse was “reciprocally desired and reciprocally enjoyed”. (1)
The VCC hotline was also supported by the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL), who only a year before had opposed the Protection of Children Bill and called for the law on images of child abuse to be relaxed. NCCL’s official response, signed by their legal officer Harriet Harman, said “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage” and called for child abuse images to be decriminalised unless it could be proved that the child had suffered harm. NCCL were also affilated to the Paedophile Information Exchange, who wanted the age of consent lowered to 4 years old. (2)
The VCC hotline didn’t specifically ask for children in care to report abuse, but this isn’t surprising as much of the social work profession didn’t even acknowledge the existence of child sexual abuse until the mid-late 1980s. Instead, the VCC hotline promised that “for the next seven months, children in care will be able to ring in with complaints about their treatment in care, the decisons made concerning them, and their day-to-day life”.
It’s obvious that “treatment in care” would include abuse suffered at the hands of residential care workers, but either no children reported this type of abuse, or the reports of abuse weren’t acted on, as paedophile networks in London children’s homes weren’t exposed until the early 1990s. These “decisions” would have included where they were placed in care. VCC also acted as an advocacy service who could negotiate with the local authority and place children with, for example, a particular foster carer.
VCC are known to have recommended children to be placed with single male residential care workers. In the early 1980s, Islington and Lambeth were among the first local authorities to adopt equal opportunities policies which meant single men were encouraged to foster and adopt. The White report on Islington children’s homes in 1995 stated that these policies had provided a loophole enabling paedophiles to gain access to the child care system by posing as ‘gay’.
More on VCC soon.
Social Work Today, 1st May 1979
Social Work Today, 5th June 1979
After Peter Righton’s home was raided in 1992, Social Work Today printed this short report.
It’s a strange article in that it fails to mention Righton’s long association with Social Work Today and the dozens of columns that he wrote for the magazine. Then there is the reference to ‘young men’ instead of ‘boys’, which leads the reader to assume that Righton was being persecuted for possessing videos of adult males. And the magazine seems keen to downplay the connection between the National Children’s Bureau and Righton as being “18 years ago”, and publicises the fact that the NCB were “considering” a complaint to the Press Council.
In April 1992, just two months before the article was published, John Rea Price was appointed as Director of the National Children’s Bureau, having recently resigned as Director of Islington Social Services after 20 years in post. In October 1992, not long after his departure, the Islington Children’s Homes scandal was exposed by the Evening Standard.
In 1979, John Rea Price and Peter Righton sat on the same steering committee to establish a course for training staff to work with disturbed young people. Righton went on to become governor of New Barns school working with disturbed young people, and Islington Council were one of the local authorities to place children there. New Barns school was the subject of a major child abuse investigation after Righton’s arrest.