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Postcards that link Islington care home children to scene of notorious Jersey sex abuse

Above: Postcards from Jersey, including one of Gorey Castle, next to Haut de la Garenne home. Below: the former Grosvenor House Children’s Home 

Published: 3 October, 2014
by ANDREW JOHNSON

THESE may look like the kind of postcards you’d find in any British holiday town. A relic of fun memories. To child abuse campaigners, however, these are a smoking gun. For the first time they provide solid evidence that children from Islington’s homes in the 1970s were sent on trips to Jersey, in an exchange programme with children from the notorious Haut de la Garenne home, where widespread abuse took place.

Establishing that children from Islington were indeed sent to Jersey on exchange trips – as has long been claimed – is another piece of the jigsaw that creates a picture of a child abuse ring operating in the UK, with children passed around the country.

It has been established by many independent inquiries that child abuse took place in all of Islington’s 12 children’s homes during this period.

Islington Council has no official records that children in its homes in the 1970s and 80s were ever sent to Jersey on official visits, as all the documents have been destroyed. Circumstantial evidence has been there, however.

The deputy superintendent of Grosvenor House Children’s Home, at 114 Grosvenor Avenue in Canonbury, was Nich­olas Rabet. He spent 15 years there. 

When in 1992 the Evening Standard revealed the extent of abuse in Islington’s homes – confirmed by numerous reports – Rabet fled to Thailand. He was arrested by Thai police and charged with abusing 30 young boys there, and it was thought he was responsible for abusing 300. He committed suicide days before he was due to stand trial in 2006.

Rabet was from Jersey, and is said to have regularly taken children from Islington on camping trips to the island. 

The postcards on this page were sent by a former resident of Gros­venor House, who wishes to be known only by his first name, Richard, to his father.

He was aged five or six, and in care at the time they were posted.

Richard’s mother died when he was a few weeks old; his father was an alcoholic and struggled to cope with the young child. Richard spent about two years in care in the late 1970s.

He says he does not remember the holiday in Jersey, beyond perhaps being in a tent. But the postcards – found recently in his father’s attic – prove he was on the Channel Island while a resident at Grosvenor House.

“I do believe I was interfered with,” Richard told the Tribune. “I can’t say that I remember it. But I displayed behaviour afterwards that is consistent with being abused. While I was in Grosvenor House I remember a blue transit van picking me up in the evenings and driving along Balls Pond Road to Hackney.

“I just remember being taken away in the evenings. I didn’t particulary know why. But I was taken to addresses in Hackney. I remember driving past this old missionary building that had a big white circle with a big red cross. I’m not saying it’s all connected. I think I spent a lot of that year in care quite disorientated. I spent time in a bedroom with three other boys, all much older than me. I didn’t have a great time there. 

“This is not about money, it’s about me disclosing and getting Islington to admit that it was wrong. I was in that care home when the likes of Nicholas Rabet was the deputy superintendent and I believe I was abused.”

Richard is now struggling with depression and other conditions, for which he sees a therapist.

He is trying to find ­others who may have been in the home with him at the time in an effort to help him remember. No one has ever been brought to book for the child abuse scandal in Islington. 

The leader of the council at the time, Margaret Hodge, has apologised for failing to take allegations seriously and not investigating. She is now considering running for London Mayor. All of the files of who was in Islington’s children’s homes during the period have mysteriously vanished.

Dr Liz Davies, a former social worker who blew the whistle on Islington’s abuse, and who is now a reader in child abuse at London Met University in Holloway, said: “The Jersey postcards are massively significant. They have stamps and postmarks proving they are legitimate.

“Richard’s file makes no mention of trips to Jersey at all, no financial records, parental permission or anything. He went on holiday at the same time with the school and remembers it very well as a happy occasion. However, he struggles to remember the trips to Jersey. This is common in cases of severe trauma.

“Richard’s postcards are the only proof we have of children sent from Islington to Jersey. One postcard is of Gorey castle, which is next to Haut de la Garenne.”

A Town Hall spokeswoman said: “The council will offer whatever help or support we can to anyone who contacts us about events from this time.”

• A vigil will be held outside the former children’s home at 114 Grosvenor Avenue at 1.45pm tomorrow (Saturday). Balloons will be released and flowers laid.

• The Highbury home is to be turned into residential flats. Islington Council was given planning permission last month to convert it into four flats.

Comments

114 grosvnor ave

i was in this home at the time and went to jersey we stayed in Haut de la Garenne.and very funny all my records have gone missing

Childrens homes

I have no documented history at all. I dont even no my real name or birth date. I stayed in islington homes and went on holidays to jersey. I was very surprised when a social worker relative of mine turned up on the island during one visit. Both my parents worked unpositions associated with the scandal. I was part of an 18month investigayion. We will never get justice but i would luv to speak with anyone who might know me. Bless u all. X

Childrens homes

I have no documented history at all. I dont even no my real name or birth date. I stayed in islington homes and went on holidays to jersey. I was very surprised when a social worker relative of mine turned up on the island during one visit. Both my parents worked unpositions associated with the scandal. I was part of an 18month investigayion. We will never get justice but i would luv to speak with anyone who might know me. Bless u all. X

1977-1978

Can I ask what years you were there please?

Thank you

Scopolamine, useful for

Scopolamine, useful for preventing memories from being formed.

Thank You

Thank You For Remembering victims!

Islington Child Sexual Abuse

Not only was Islington one of the worst cases of organised abuse within its children's homes that this country has ever known and on a level similar to the North Wales scandal during the same period, the borough itself was home to the Paedophile Information Exchange and obviously dozens of subsequently convicted members of PIE felt Islington was the place to live in the late 70's to early 90's both to have access to the Borough's most vulnerable children and tap in to a highly organised and powerful network of systematic abuse. It is not a coincidence that Kings Cross was the area where Paedophiles preyed on young boys running away from all over the country Islington must be a focus of a thorough investigation

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