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Islington Council appoints Sarah Morgan QC to look into ex-mayor Sandy Marks' alleged pro-paedophile past

PUBLISHED: 19:28 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:30 22 January 2018

Sarah Morgan QC. Picture: Julian Cornish-Tre

Sarah Morgan QC. Picture: Julian Cornish-Tre

Copyright: Julian Cornish-Trestrail

Islington Council has appointed a top family lawyer to begin its probe into a former mayor's alleged links to a pro-paedophile group.

Members of Islington Survivors Network and supporters of the group outside Islington Town Hall ahead of a meeting in September last year. Picture: Ramzy AlwakeelMembers of Islington Survivors Network and supporters of the group outside Islington Town Hall ahead of a meeting in September last year. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

It is a step eagerly awaited by Islington Survivors’ Network (ISN), and the result of a Gazette investigation published in May.

The inquiry will explore evidence that Sandy Marks had been a member of a pro-paedophile organisation in the early 1980s. Years later, she ended up overseeing social services as Islington’s horrific abuse scandal came to light in the early 1990s.

Ms Marks denies any link to the clandestine group called Fallen Angels, which was supportive of paedophilia and lobbied for paedophile rights.

Initially James Goudie QC and Holly Stout were appointed to look into the Gazette’s evidence.

But after ISN expressed concerns through this newspaper that Mr Goudie’s background rendered him inappropriate for the role, it was announced that the two lawyers would have no further involvement with the probe beyond their initial report.

Before they left, the pair concluded the Gazette’s investigation was sufficient to call into question a landmark, but heavily criticised, government report on the scandal from 1995.

Now Sarah Morgan QC of the 1 Garden Court chambers has been given the top job, and ISN says she is a better fit. She has been a barrister for 30 years and specialises in children’s cases within family law.

“We welcome the ​appointment and look forward to working with Sarah Morgan QC in the investigation,” the survivors’ group said in a statement today.

“She has a complex task ahead of her. As a survivors’ network, we will inform her understanding of the crimes that took place within the children’s homes and the council from the ’70s to the ’90s.

“Organised and institutional abuse of Islington children has never been investigated – the abusers and colluders escaped justice.

“Any attempts at inquiries and investigations have been piecemeal, fragmented and ineffective. Many documents have gone missing and some abusers have died avoiding criminal prosecution.

“With many survivors now coming forward to ISN, we have an opportunity to present our evidence and inform the public about the widespread physical, sexual, emotional harm and neglect that took place in Islington’s care systems and how those children and adults who spoke out were silenced.”

The council said: “Islington Council has commissioned an independent review of the allegations in relation to former councillor Sandy Marks published in the Islington Gazette in May and June 2017 and their relevance, if any, to the findings of the Report of the Inquiry into the Management of Child Care in the London Borough of Islington 1995 [the White Report].

“Islington Council has appointed Sarah Morgan QC as lead investigator to chair the independent review. Barrister Lucy Sprinz will work alongside Sarah Morgan.

“The independent review will begin in February 2018.”

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