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Islington kids’ homes scandal: Council promises lawyer-led inquiry into new evidence

PUBLISHED: 05:57 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:36 18 May 2017

Islington Town Hall and inset former mayor Sandy Marks. Picture: Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall and inset former mayor Sandy Marks. Picture: Ken Mears

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Islington Council has promised to set up an inquiry led by a top lawyer to examine new evidence relating to a former mayor of Islington’s pro-paedophile past.

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, has promised a top lawyer will examine the new evidence. Picture: Em Fitzgerald Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, has promised a top lawyer will examine the new evidence. Picture: Em Fitzgerald

After a major investigation the Gazette can reveal newly uncovered documents show links between ex-councillor Sandy Marks and a radical pro-paedophile activist group called Fallen Angels in early 1980.

Ms Marks, 63, went on to chair Islington’s social services committee from 1991 to 1995 during the height of paedophile sex ring allegations concerning children’s homes in the borough.

Council leader Cllr Richard Watts this week condemned support for paedophilia as “abhorrent” and said: “I’m shocked and concerned at the information as presented by the Gazette.

“This raises new questions about the council’s response to the allegations in the 1990s.

“I have instructed that we will appoint an independent QC to examine the evidence, and provide advice on the best action to take.

“They will be free to pursue any line of inquiry, and we will be bound by their recommendations.”

The report will be passed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

“On behalf of Islington Council, I’m extremely sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children,” Cllr Watts added.

“I know those who were abused continue to suffer.”

He said new evidence would be treated “extremely seriously” and encouraged survivors to talk to police so “those responsible can be brought to justice”.

He stressed the council today is a “very different organisation” and said child protection is a top priority.

The Gazette understands a grant to Islington Personal Budgets Network Community Interest Company to establish a “centre for inclusive living” will be reviewed – including a £27,457 salary for Ms Marks, a director of the company.

Commenting on the documentary evidence, Ms Marks said the allegations were “untrue and unfounded”.

* If you suffered or witnessed abuse at Islington children’s homes, you can contact the Islington Survivors’ Network via islingtonsurvivors.co.uk, or Dr Liz Davies in confidence on l.davies@londonmet.ac.uk

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