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Abuse survivors demand answers from MP at university event

PUBLISHED: 14:23 22 October 2019

Margaret Hodge official parliamentary portraits

Margaret Hodge official parliamentary portraits

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Survivors of child abuse at Islington care homes confronted Dame Margaret Hodge MP at a packed event at University College London.

The former children's minister had delivered UCL's annual Mishcon Lecure on 'Accountability and Transparency in Government' when the group interjected during a Q&A session.

Four to six people thought to be members of Islington Survivor's Network attended.

One demanded: "You say accountability and transparency in government is the duty of parliament to hold the PM accountable. What about Islington survivors?"

Potentially thousands of people were abused physically and sexually by paedophiles in borough-run care homes between the 1970s and 1990s.

Ms Hodge, who was formerly the leader of Islington Council, has repeatedly apologised for not initially taking reports seriously.

The sister of one survivor still waiting to be housed by Islington Council read out an impassioned statement from him.

Part of it said: "Moving from one broken and difficult lifestyle to another only to be punished yet again is a very heavy price.

"You have to put yourself in one of these children's shoes if you truly wish to understand and grasp the enormity of the experience."

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The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the Gazette: "I wasn't going to get drawn into it. I said my piece and left."

The lecture, at UCL's Cruciform Building in Gower Street, was live-streamed but that segment of the Q&A has been removed from the video online.

Another survivor told the Gazette: "There are questions Margaret still has to answer. She has said she was misled by officers; were they ever disciplined? Were they ever charged? Were they allowed to continue to work in children's services?

"Hecklers were telling us to get out. We are treated with such disdain."

Dr Liz Davies, the founder of ISN who blew the whistle on the scandal in 1992, said: "It was painful to watch. It was important they got some sort of a voice, but they felt they were treated with disregard."

A spokesman for Ms Hodge said: "A lecture was given by Margaret Hodge MP on the role of being a backbencher in Parliament.

"In a room of 350 people, a small handful asked questions after the lecture about child abuse.

"Being a victim of child abuse stays with you forever. That's why the government's inquiry into historic child abuse is so important and Margaret fully supports this approach.

"After their intervention the individuals left the meeting and did not wish to speak to Margaret, despite her inviting them to do so."

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