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Abuse lawyer welcomes apology from former leader of LBC Islington over abuse allegations

Margaret Hodge apologises for Islington Council’s ‘naivety’ over Savile abuse claims

7 April 2014

Abuse claims lawyer Frances Swaine has welcomed the statement from Margaret Hodge MP over the ‘shameful naivety’ in the way alleged victims of abuse were ignored when they tried to report abuse at children’s homes run by Islington borough council.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Frances Swaine, who represented several abuse survivors from Islington, added her voice to calls for an independent inquiry.

She said:

“In her position as leader of Islington Council [Mrs Hodge] was under a duty to investigate evidence of the sexual abuse of children in her council’s care,” she said. “Sadly, for whatever reason, this did not happen for several years.”

Police have uncovered evidence that paedophile Jimmy Savile may have assaulted vulnerable children who were in the care of LBC Islington at a care home in the borough. 

Islington Council has since paid thousands of pounds in compensation for survivors of abuse but many of the perpetrators of abuse escaped prosecution because vital evidence was destroyed or lost by the council.

The Department of Education has announced that Islington should examine claims that Savile abused children in one of the homes that it ran.

Some victims of abuse in Islington are still coming forward to report the abuse that they suffered as residents of children’s homes, in some cases, more than 40 years ago.   They say that when they reported abuse to the authorities they were ignored and simply moved to different homes.

There are concerns that any investigation that is run by Islington will not be truly independent.  The councillor who leads children’s social services in Islington is Joe Caluri, son-in-law of Margaret Hodge the former leader of the council and former children’s minister. 

Frances previously secured significant sums of compensation in claims against Islington Council on behalf of adults who were abused as children while resident at children’s homes in Islington. 

These included Yvonne Williams was abused almost daily by Geoffrey Wilde-Jones, the superintendent in charge of her home, between the ages of 10 and 17.

Williams has previously spoken of her frustration that Margaret Hodge ignored warnings from social workers about abuse in the 1990s.

Frances also represented Douglas Fitch who was also abused in a children’s home run by Islington who has described how he told Margaret Hodge directly about abuse he and his brother suffered.

Whilst welcoming the public apology from Margaret Hodge Frances is concerned that the investigation that has been ordered by the Minister for Education will not be sufficiently transparent and open enough to satisfy survivors of abuse in Islington.

She said:

“It is shocking that vulnerable children in the care of Islington Council suffered horrific abuse whilst in their care, were ignored and brushed aside.

“Now that an investigation will finally take place into these events the victims must be re-assured that any links to the old regime who dismissed their claims are completely broken.”

Abuse partner Alison Millar added:

“As a firm we regularly represent abuse survivors, and the failure of authorities to hear or heed the voices of victims and their families is a recurrent theme.  Any investigation that Islington Council now does into the potential abuse of vulnerable children in its homes by Jimmy Savile must ensure that all allegations, whoever they concerned, are investigated openly, fairly and seriously.”

To speak to a member of the abuse claims team at Leigh Day please phone us on 020 7650 1200 or complete an enquiry form and someone will get back to you very shortly.

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