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Islington survivors call for inquiry into institutional abuse in the borough's former children's homes

A vigil took place on 4 October in Islington at the site of a former children's home

Posted on 08 October 2014

On Saturday 4 October, campaigners and survivors gathered at the site of a former Islington children’s home for a peaceful vigil in memory of the young people who were abused whilst in the care of Islington Council.

White flowers and balloons were placed in front of 114 Grosvenor Avenue as a gesture of remembrance for those who were abused in Islington, and support for the survivors who are still striving for justice.  

Speakers included Dr Liz Davies, the social worker who blew the whistle on abuse in the borough, Peter Saunders, Chief Executive of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), Ian Pace, blogger and campaigner, and Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at Leigh Day.

Grosvenor Avenue was the residence where, as Deputy Superintendent, Nicholas Rabet was responsible for the care of some of the most vulnerable children in Islington until 1989. 

Rabet fled to Thailand in the 1990s, where he was eventually arrested and charged for the abuse of 30 underage Thai boys. He committed suicide whilst incarcerated there in 2006, days before he was due to stand trial.

Participants at the vigil heard claims from Dr Davies that Rabet was part of a wider paedophile ring operating out of Islington. Reference was also made to Eileen Fairweather’s exposé for the Evening Standard in October 1992, which reported that abuse was rife in Islington children’s homes. 

Islington Council commissioned a report into the scandal, known as the White Report, in 1995. The report has been criticised for failing to properly consider the accounts of children and whistleblowers, or investigate the scale of paedophile activity, including the potential negligence of key council members. 

Dr Davies also described the struggle for a number of whistleblowers who were identified incorrectly as abusers, and have since had to fight to clear their names. 

Attendees at Saturday’s vigil called for a full independent inquiry to be launched to properly address these concerns. They argued that many of those responsible for abuse in Islington have never been brought to justice and that the Council has since failed to provide specialised support for survivors.

Alison Millar, who represents a number of survivors who were abused whilst in the care of Islington Council, including at Grosvenor Avenue, said:

“It is crucial that there is a fresh inquiry which will finally provide the answers which survivors of abuse in Islington deserve. Whilst a number of the abusers are now deceased, concerns remain that others who were responsible or who deliberately or recklessly ignored what was going on have escaped justice and can still be brought to account.

“I urge the authorities to put in place the resources necessary for a thorough investigation, as well as to offer the much needed support to survivors who are currently struggling to access specialist services to deal with the lasting trauma.”

“Campaigners and survivors also heard that Islington Council plans to redevelop the Grosvenor Avenue residence for luxury housing, and urged the local authority to allow access to the empty property to aid memory recovery and closure.

You can watch BBC footage of Saturday’s vigil online. 

Individuals who may have information or concerns about abuse in Islington should contact a member of Alison’s team on 020 7650 1232 for a confidential discussion.