Editor’s comment: Islington Council must compensate all victims of children’s homes abuse scandal

Islington Town Hall.

Islington Town Hall. - Credit: Archant

I welcome news that a QC will be appointed to review this newspaper’s investigation into former chair of social services Sandy Marks’ alleged links to pro-paedophile activists.

It is also good to hear that James Goudie QC will not be leading the project given the survivors’ lack of confidence in his background, as reported in the Gazette over the summer.

Islington Survivors’ Network’s fight for justice and willingness to speak out about what happened to them under the borough’s care system has been brave and it is an honour that they have invited us to cover it.

I am fully aware that this is just the beginning of what they set out to achieve, but they have my assurance we will always try be a voice for them.

For fresh allegations of child abuse to be surfacing in 2017 shows only how much more work there is to be done to understand the dark past of children’s services in the capital – and secure justice for the survivors.

I have no doubt it is already too late for some, but there are many who live every day with the scars they sustained while under the “care” of this borough.

Islington is a cash-strapped authority and I understand it must take tough decisions about how it spends its limited resources. But just as the £180,000 it has set aside for this investigation is absolutely vital, so too is giving survivors the help they were denied as youngsters.

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I echo ISN’s calls for a full redress system to be set up for those people – many of whom were totally robbed of the chance to form relationships or careers and have been left to shoulder appalling emotional burdens in poverty and loneliness.

A limited compensation scheme is already in operation through the council’s insurance, and to date just under £2million has been paid out to 35 people. This is not a large number considering hundreds of children, at least, may have suffered.

What ISN wants is for anyone who was at homes where abuse took place to be compensated as they were all victims, whether directly or indirectly. At present, many children who grew up around sexual and physical violence, torture and humiliation are eligible for nothing.

This isn’t just about saying sorry – they need practical help, and they need it now.

Every step Islington takes towards righting these wrongs is welcome, but the clock is ticking.

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