Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hodge Tries to Gag the BBC over New Claims of Council Child Abuse; CHILDREN'S MINISTER ATTACKS 'SENSATIONALIST' TODAY PROGRAMME

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hodge Tries to Gag the BBC over New Claims of Council Child Abuse; CHILDREN'S MINISTER ATTACKS 'SENSATIONALIST' TODAY PROGRAMME

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY

CONTROVERSIAL Children's Minister Margaret Hodge today launched an extraordinary bid to stop the BBC reporting fresh allegations of abuse at an Islington children's home.

She labelled a former abuse victim, Demetrious Panton, an "extremely disturbed person" in an astonishing attack on his testimony. Mrs Hodge sent a letter to BBC chairman Gavyn Davies, copied to director-general Greg Dyke, accusing Radio 4's Today programme of "deplorable sensationalism" and "scant balance". The minister claimed Today reporter Angus Stickler was motivated by trying to connect her to the case in her role as leader of Islington council in the 1980s.

She called on Mr Davies to investigate personally and added: "If the position is that a news item is being developed with the intention of connecting a government minister to the story for the sake of sensationalism then I think it is deplorable."

In a thinly veiled threat of legal action, her letter also referred to High Court proceedings issued in 1996 against Channel 4 News for an item about child abuse in Islington, which ended with the programme apologising.

Mrs Hodge's attack on the BBC opened up the most serious dispute between the Government and the corporation since the David Kelly affair - which also involved the Today programme.

Since her appointment the minister has faced near-continuous controversy over revelations in the Evening Standard from two former council workers that she failed to take effective action to stop the child abuse scandal in Islington.

Sweeping new government measures to tackle abuse nationally had to be postponed for months because of the furore surrounding Mrs Hodge. The latest Today programme investigation placed more pressure on Mrs Hodge and also drew another minister, Stephen Twigg, into the row.

Mr Panton, who was abused in a care home in the 1970s by notorious paedophile Bernie Bain, told how he went to confront Mrs Hodge in her surgery in 1992 - but she was not there. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.