Secret papers show how Archway was nerve centre for child sex apologists in early 1980s
- Credit: LSE Archives
Investigations journalist EMMA YOULE explains how a stash of newly uncovered documents linked former Islington Mayor Sandy Marks to the radical Fallen Angels collective in early 1980
It is a collection of paperwork that makes for shocking and sometimes sickening reading.
Today the Gazette can report on the trove of documents that trace the history of pro-paedophile activism in Archway in the early 1980s and led to the truth about Sandy Marks’ past.
The newsletters, periodicals, and decades-old minutes of meetings were found in an archive of the London School of Economics (LSE) library by graduate research student Charlotte Russell.
They paint a deeply worrying picture of pro-paedophile propaganda groups operating in Archway in the early 1980s.
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At that time a controversial trial had caught the public imagination.
In 1979 five members of the reviled Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) had been charged with “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” over publication of adverts encouraging paedophiles to contact each other in the group’s magazine, Magpie.
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Ms Russell said: “While researching events leading up to the PIE trials of 1981 it became apparent a particularly confrontational community of N19 paedophile rights activists campaigning for PIE existed at the time – the Fallen Angels collective.”
It was this discovery that would eventually lead to Sandy Marks.
Ms Russell knew who Ms Marks was from press cuttings about the Islington children’s homes scandal from the 1990s – but when the name started appearing in documents alongside Fallen Angels she believed she had uncovered something new and disturbing.
“I wasn’t searching for Sandy Marks in the documents,” she said. “But I soon realised that I recognised her name and it was significant in relation to the abuse scandal.”
The documents showed that in April 1980 the Fallen Angels travelled to a village on the outskirts of Barcelona to attend the annual conference of the International Gay Association (IGA).
Over that weekend workshops on paedophilia were held and the conference newsletter reports Fallen Angels came away having won a remarkable degree of support for the trial against PIE to be dropped.
The newsletter says an international support campaign was set to be co-ordinated through “the PIE Defence Campaign (contact address Fallen Angels)” in Davenant Road, Archway.
Sandy Marks is also pictured in the newsletter, which lists her as a delegate, and says she is a contact person for Fallen Angels at an address in Hornsey Rise, N19, with the request: “Do not write the name of the organisation, and put ‘private’ on the envelope.”
As the Gazette went to press, Ms Marks said she “completely den[ied]” she had been a member of Fallen Angels.
At the conference, the Fallen Angels circulated a 10,000-word paper called Corrupting Children: Children, Paedophilia and the Struggle – subtitled Women’s and Gay Liberation – that decried child protection as “a racket” and gave a summary submission on paedophilia, which has Ms Marks’ initials on it.
Among the deeply repellent views peddled in the submission is a final underlined sentence: “We demand the right to form alternative relations with kids – on their terms, and to affirm the erotic in those relations.”
Ms Marks at first said she has no recollection of attending the Barcelona conference and has memory lapses due to the illness ME.
Yet after being confronted with the picture of herself in the newsletter she said she was vulnerable and had been manipulated and brainwashed by those around her.
“It was about the way they twisted what I said,” she told the Gazette.
“I don’t think I realised what they were doing, that they were using what I thought and kind of re-saying it and re-doing it.
“And I think I didn’t really understand the intellectual arguments. Because most of them would have been to uni and I left school at 15.”
As the Gazette went to press Ms Marks denied being at the conference, saying the photograph “could not have been taken at the event”.
At the IGA conference was another Fallen Angel called Tim Brown, of Davenant Road, Archway.
In a later letter to IGA delegate groups he signs off with the words “paedophile love & kisses”.
Back in London in late 1979, activism around the PIE trial was in its infancy and Ms Marks and Tim Brown are again linked to collectives campaigning on the issues.
Typed minutes appear to show Sandy Marks attended the third meeting of a group calling itself Conspiracy Against Public Morals (CAPM) to discuss tactics for a PIE defence campaign on September 11, 1979.
Also at that meeting was notorious PIE chairman Tom O’Carroll, who was later jailed for possessing thousands of pictures of naked children.
Ms Marks said she did not know Tom O’Carroll and strongly denied being at the meeting or a member of the organisation.
Then on June 13, 1980, another set of handwritten minutes of the Gay Rights Committee of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) records a discussion about Sandy Marks and Tim Brown allegedly producing a book on paedophilia.
Ms Marks described this as “the most ridiculous suggestion ever” saying she has dyslexia, struggles to write even a few hundred words, and has never met Tim Brown.
She later suggested the minutes were a “complete fabrication”.
One final document, a lurid 60-page pamphlet named Paedophilia and Public Morals, was published in October or November 1980 and was to cause a vitriolic split between PIE and the Fallen Angels.
PIE identified the booklet as the work of the Fallen Angels and accused the group of a series of “hysterical and vicious attacks on PIE” within its pages.
It was a stark about-turn from July 1980, when PIE had hailed the Fallen Angels as “heaven-sent support”.
By January 1981 PIE denounced the Fallen Angels as “a clique of leftover intellectuals, political theorists and hydrophobic feminists”.
But Islington was by now a magnet for other pro-paedophile activists and campaigning for PIE would continue at some level in the area for years to come – with or without the Angels’ support.
“By then Islington had become a focal point for the politicisation of paedophilia,” said Ms Russell.
Within two years of this period, Ms Marks was elected a Labour councillor in Islington in 1982.
Commenting on the documentary evidence, she said: “Whatever it says I don’t agree with it and I wouldn’t have agreed with it at the time or before.”
* NEXT WEEK: In the second of our special series of reports into the Islington kids’ home scandal – the secret list of 26 names never investigated by police
* 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 firstname.lastname@example.org