She Ignored a Terrible Child Abuse Scandal under Her Own Nose. Now She Preaches to Every Family in Britain; ANALYSIS
Byline: PAUL EASTHAM
WITH her refined voice and air of grandeur, Margaret Hodge is referred to even by her closest lieutenants as 'Her Ladyship'. Clad in designer suits, the immaculately made-up multimillionaire Minister for Children resides in a gorgeous [pounds sterling]1.5million 18th century house in a desirable London street a few doors from where the Prime Minister used to live.
She enjoys weekends at her Norfolk country retreat.
It is difficult, therefore, for some people to recall that the Queen Bee of the Blairite social world rose to political prominence as an 'h' dropping, dungaree-clad radical socialist.
Or that Margaret Eve Hodge MBE once proudly flew the Red Flag over Islington Town Hall and displayed a bust of Lenin in the foyer.
At Islington she presided over an era of bizarre extremism and political correctness.
She even sent out a survey of Town Hall employee attitudes with the question: 'Do you consider yourself a man or a woman?' But as leader of the Socialist Republic of Islington she also presided over one of the worst sexual abuse scandals in local authority history - and refused for years to apologise for the terrible mistakes she made.
Her time as leader of the borough between 1982 and 1992 was dogged by claims of systematic abuse of children in care by council staff.
In February 1990, social workers Liz Davies and David Cofie uncovered incontrovertible evidence and incurred Mrs Hodge's wrath by warning local parents of telltale signs.
Then in April, a request from Mr Cofie asking for two extra staff for the local office carrying out an initial investigation into the sex abuse was turned down by Mrs Hodge in a memo. She described it as 'inappropriate'.
The two social workers continued their investigations and in 1991 believed they had finally reached a watershed when paedophile Roy Caterer, whose name Mrs Davies passed to the police, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years.
Disgusted that no further action was taken, Mrs Davies resigned in February 1992 and passed her information to Scotland Yard. On October 6 the Daily Mail's sister paper, London's Evening Standard, revealed evidence of abuse and child prostitution.
Mrs Hodge furiously attacked the newspaper's investigation on October 14 that year as ' gutter journalism'. …