23 July 2015
As you know, for decades there was widespread child sexual abuse taking place in the London Borough of Islington. The extent of the abuse was only uncovered through the tenacity and bravery of whistle-blowers, journalists and survivors which led to a number of independent inquiries and the damning Ian White report in 1995.
As with the rest of the country, the reality is that child abuse was rampant, ignored, covered up and the extent of it is only just beginning to come to light. The attitude was that of the Head of MI5, who was revealed yesterday to have written about a paedophile MP to the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong in 1986: ‘At the present stage…the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger’
At an event I hosted this year in Parliament of 200 child abuse and exploitation survivors, we received public testimony of the scale of abuse in Islington from a whistle-blower who was a leading light in uncovering child abuse in Islington during the 1980s and early 1990s. This social worker confirmed to me that she and others met with you in the early 1990s to raise her concerns about child abuse and cover-ups in Islington. You said that you would raise the matter with Virginia Bottomley, then at the Department of Health, but no indication of whether you followed this up was ever given.
In 1986 MP Geoffrey Dickens raised serious concerns about child abuse in Islington.
Your response was to complain to the Speaker about him visiting your constituency without informing you. I have faced such complaints myself in pursuing corruption issues.
There are many people who also rubbished the idiosyncratic Mr Dickens. They have been proven to be wrong, indeed I have just received details of another list of names of alleged and now proven paedophiles that Dickens provided to Leon Brittan as Home Secretary, not related to Islington, but further corroboration of the scale of the cover up that has taken place.
On February 17th 1986 you had called in Parliament for Geoffrey Dickens to “unreservedly withdraw his allegations of the existence of child brothels in the area (in Islington) and make a public apology.” You further called Mr Dickens ‘irresponsible’’.
You inadvertently helped the rubbishing and the cover up of all of the Dickens allegations. Indeed your actions encouraged others, because a week later the Islington Gazette published a letter attacking Geoffrey Dickens over his allegations from Roger Moody, a prominent pro paedophilia activist.
On May 30th 1995 the Independent reported that: “The Labour Borough (of Islington) has finally put its hands up. Last week an independent report confirmed that pimps, paedophiles and pornographers had for years preyed on children in Islington's homes.” The reporters highlights the inaction of the council and notes that: “Some social workers met Islington Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn begging him to influence the council, then still denying everything. Soon after, I met him. He did make inquiries but was reassured. There the matter rested.”
You might wish to read, if you have not had the time already, the superb speech made by Ann Clwyd in the House of Commons last Thursday in which she painstakingly explained the insidious role of insurance companies in ensuring that councils’ refused and refuse to accept liability or responsibility for children they looked after, including in North Wales, but which can also be extended to my own in Nottinghamshire and nearby Nottingham.
Perhaps most worrying of all are the implications of your question to the Home Secretary on November 3rd 2014.
You stated that ‘Finally in my own borough of Islington there have been complaints about Islington children’s homes in the past and the council has investigated them.’ This statement at first glance is non contentious. However on reflection is an extraordinary statement considering the representations made to you in the past that the council was in fact covering up abuse and not listening to the survivors, issues you were challenged on at the time.
Repeatedly across the country, institutions investigating allegations about themselves over child abuse have heard nothing, seen nothing and known nothing. This is at the very heart of the cover up culture.
I know you through your work on Central African and Latin American human rights issues, and am quite certain that you are a man of the highest personal integrity and ethics. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that.
My concern is about your politics and how that results in actions, or in this case non-actions. As we have seen with the appalling misjudgements of the NCCL and its allowance of membership to the Paedophile Information Exchange in the 1970s, sections of the left were in denial of the motivations of some campaigners and this unwillingness to face up to unpalatable possibilities clouded judgement over the most serious of allegations.
In fact the allegations were true and are true as survivors increasingly choose to speak out. The establishment and sections of the left stood by and allowed children’s lives to be destroyed.
The reason that your response and inactions to these matters is worthy of specific scrutiny is that unlike others who did not see what was happening, or as we saw with Saville, kept their suspicions to themselves rather than speak out or investigate, you are wishing to lead the Labour Party during the period of Goddard inquiry into child abuse and are seeking become Prime Minister.
The so called ‘trendy left’ politics of the early 1980s was a contributory factor in covering up child abuse. I myself saw that repeatedly at first hand in Lambeth. Meanwhile children were murdered and disappeared, were raped and beaten, forced into prostitution, trafficked around and a significant number of lives destroyed and blighted.
Your inaction in the 1980s and 1990s says a lot, not about your personal character, which I admire, but about your politics which I do not. Your carefully worded excusing of Islington Council in the House of Commons equally demonstrates why it is inappropriate for you to attempt to lead the Labour Party at the critical time of the Goddard Enquiry, as child abuse is the issue that will haunt this Parliament.
John Mann MP