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Islington child abuse scandal: Sex attacks weren’t just limited to kids in care, meeting is told

PUBLISHED: 19:48 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:53 29 September 2017

Members and supporters of Islington Survivors' Network outside Islington Town Hall ahead of the meeting to order a new inquiry into the kids' home abuse scandal. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

Members and supporters of Islington Survivors' Network outside Islington Town Hall ahead of the meeting to order a new inquiry into the kids' home abuse scandal. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

Archant

The appalling child abuse scandal that shames Islington’s past was not just limited to kids under the council’s care, it has been claimed.

Cllr Richard Watts speaks at the meeting at Islington Town Hall on 28th September, 2017. Picture: Catherine Davison Cllr Richard Watts speaks at the meeting at Islington Town Hall on 28th September, 2017. Picture: Catherine Davison

Survivors of rape and torture piled into the town hall for the first time on Thursday last week to tell Islington’s cabinet their harrowing stories and demand action.

It came as the council formally ordered an inquiry into this newspaper’s investigation linking former mayor and social services chairwoman Sandy Marks to pro-paedophile activists in the early 1980s. She denies the allegations.

The meeting was told how one abuser visited an Islington primary school in the 1980s to “cherry-pick” boys to take on holiday and sexually abuse.

It marks the first time abuse has been alleged involving children outside Islington’s care system.

"I think it’s a bigger thing than we even possibly imagine"

Survivor on the scale of the child abuse scandal in Islington

“I wasn’t in care,” one survivor told councillors, “but when I was in primary school one of the leaders of one of the care homes used to take people on school journeys. He used to cherry pick people.

“I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones to go on the school journey – and for a week he sexually abused me. I have had to live with that for years.”

Previously, allegations of abuse have come from children who lived in Islington care homes, were sent to homes outside the borough by Islington Council, or had Islington social workers.

But the survivor said: “I think it’s a bigger thing than we even possibly imagine. […] I would like to know how someone from a care home can go into a school and cherry pick people. This guy would take journeys and say: ‘You, pretty blond boy, can come along.’”

Cllr Richard Watts speaks at the meeting. Picture: Catherine Davison Cllr Richard Watts speaks at the meeting. Picture: Catherine Davison

Council leader Richard Watts urged the man to speak to police. “I know Islington Council has a credibility problem among survivors,” said Cllr Watts. “I don’t ask you to trust an institution that has failed you. I think that’s too big an ask.

“The investigation has to be done by the police to ensure it has that independence.”

One survivor had told the room she had been sexually assaulted by a police officer and did not trust the police.

But another said the officers he had spoken to about his abuse were “the most supportive people I have ever met in my life”.

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