Dr Liz Davies (Whistleblower; Islington Social Services)
It is a privilege to speak here today. Survivors this is your day. We are making history. This is the first meeting of this kind in the House of Parliament that I know of. For 25 years some of us have been whispering in dark corners and today we are shouting out loud. It is a very significant turning point in our campaign which has two main aims; to protect current children and to gain justice and healing for survivors. This means also seeking the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators and removing them from the world of children.
I need to clarify the term organised abuse. You will have noticed that this meeting is about organised child abuse and not specifically child sexual abuse. This is to definitely include physical torture, emotional harm and neglect. We use the term abuse but it is important to be clear we are speaking about serious crimes.
There is a vast global industry of organised crime against children and the stakes are high for those wanting to protect the financial interests and networks. The powerful of this society have been reliant on harm to children in order to blackmail and control each other’s activities. This has sadly been the political foundation of this society. The Dirt Books, the Government Whips records of MPs ‘misdemeanours’, including sexual harm to children, kept in the safes of this very building, were used to control the actions of MPs and have still not been seized by police. This is a disgrace.
Organised abuse includes the illegal adoption trade, abusive images and online abuse, illegal organ trade, trafficking and sexual exploitation across the country and internationally. The child victims are from all social classes, genders and ages. YET there is no national police team to investigate these crimes. We know exactly how to do this job but the systems and resources are not in place for the scale of the networks. We need an increase in the police response working closely with survivors as Lenny Harper did in Jersey.
I certainly do not support the trend to medicalise paedophilia as some kind of illness – though NSPCC are pushing for this. This is a response to increase in convictions, prisons bursting and court and police time stretched to the limit. I don’t care about this – because children have a right to protection and survivors a right to justice.
Organised abuse was defined in statutory guidance for professionals in 1991 and until 2010
‘one or more abusers and a number of children. The abusers concerned may be acting in concert to abuse children sometimes acting in isolation or may be using an institutional framework or position of authority to recruit children for abuse.’
The means of investigating organised abuse are very clearly outlined. These were good systems and instructions that reflected the work Peter McKelvie, myself and others were doing as social workers working jointly with police child protection teams in the 90s.
However, in 2013, in a revised version of this document, this government eliminated the term organised abuse and everything concerning it. This is shocking and this guidance for professionals MUST be reinstated or we just don’t have the tools for the job.
A further problem is that the 2003 Sexual Offences Act was not retrospective before 1997. Paedophiles we know about who were convicted before that time are not being monitored. Charles Napier is one example – it was excellent that Peter’s team brought him to justice in the 90s and again he was convicted before Xmas last year but in between those years he was unmonitored and free to continue to harm children. He was treasurer of the Paedophile Information Exchange and every known member of that vile organisation should be the subject of police scrutiny. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 should be amended to address this serious loophole in legislation.
The WhiteFlowers campaign is based on the Belgian march of 1996 where 300,000 people took to the streets against the establishment in solidarity with parents of children kidnapped and murdered by a paedophile gang including people of very high status. The campaigners were angry at the corrupt state that had let this happen. Marchers carried white flowers and balloons to symbolise the innocence of the children.
We haven’t had anything comparable in the UK as yet but it is our wish to build up to something similar. The WhiteFlowers campaign here has definitely caught the moment. The first vigil was outside Elm Guest House, Richmond where it is alleged that boys were subjected to sexual crime by powerful people.
The next vigil in October was at 114 Grosvenor Ave one of 12 Islington children’s homes where crimes were committed against children, the managers were involved in numbers of large paedophile networks and also children were trafficked to and from Jersey. The manager of the home was eventually convicted in Thailand. This time the vigil hit the headline news and more survivors came forward.
Vigils enable us to remember the child victims. They are quiet, emotional and respectful events which enable survivors, whistleblowers and those at the grassroots to collaborate and have a voice and speak about what happened at the places where it happened. We hope there will be many more which will provide a record of historic crimes at a time when we are relying almost entirely on personal testimony because files are largely missing and those we have obtained are seriously sanitised.
For those who do not know me, I was a social worker when I exposed the Islington child abuse scandal in 1992. I bore witness to many crimes against children, there were murders, abductions and sexual assaults some in the context of cults and ritual abuse. Children were being trafficked across the country and to Jersey.
All my efforts and those of my police colleagues to protect children were suppressed
All the 14 Inquiries were a complete sham
All my records of child victims were missing
Later, when Margaret Hodge became Minister for Children, my lawyer lost my entire archive of evidence. In 25 years I haven’t stopped trying to get an investigation. There has been a great deal of news coverage and I have met endlessly with police, journalists and lawyers repeating the same evidence again and again. Many of the abusers are still out there and those who colluded with them and covered up are still in powerful positions.
I didn’t know then what I know now;
That the Paedophile Information Exchange and some leading PIE members were based very close to my office.
That there had already been murders of children in the locality just a few years before I was raising the issue.
That the late Geoffrey Dickens, the now famous Tory MP, had been raising the ‘child brothels of Islington’ in parliament and was ignored and of course his dossiers of evidence are now known to be ‘lost’ by the Home Office.
That similar events were happening in many other parts of the country. I only knew of a few – hence how, as just one example, I went to Hereford and Worcester to work with Peter McKelvie on the Peter Righton case.
In 1992 there was no internet. We are in a different place now some of us have reconnected and found our wonderful former colleagues and there are very strong bonds between us.
We are joined by so many well organised survivors and whistleblowers from all over the country with an army of helpers – lawyers, politicians, police, researchers, archivists, journalists and so on. Those in power can destroy all the records they want but we have our memories. None of us will ever forget what we have seen and witnessed.
We had individual pieces of a jigsaw puzzle but now we see the connections and it is vast and overwhelming. The whole sordid picture of what has happened to children is being very swiftly assembled. There is no hiding place now for the perpetrators and for those who collude with them.
We must work closely with police and statutory agencies to get prosecutions to succeed and children protected. It is through brave survivors coming forward that current children gain protection. We must all be very cautious not to interfere with police evidence and to protect witness testimony.
We are bound to have opponents. We are challenging the establishment and how it has functioned through an orchestrated strategy of child abuse. So there are obviously those spreading disinformation, distracting us with false campaigns, there are front organisations which infiltrate, undermine and deceive. There are academics promoting theories that support paedophilia. There are those who try to set us up to make mistakes and call us all kinds of names. This has been ever the case since I began this struggle in 1992 and we know the main players and fight them off every single day.
But WhiteFlowers and the survivor organisations are very strong and with cross party support the campaign will definitely build. We will not stop until we get the Chair of the Inquiry we want, the Panel we want, the Terms of Reference we want and the Safeguarding protocols we want. Today we have come out of the shadows and there’s no going back.
(I have been thinking about setting up a Foundation led by survivors and whistleblowers which would provide full support to survivors and have an investigative role with research facility to identify and bring perpetrators to justice with full support for survivors. It would give resources and structure to what we are doing already and help us be more effective).