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Hidden papers reveal former mayor’s pro-paedophile past links to Archway’s Fallen Angels

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:27 11 May 2017

Former mayor of Islington Sandy Marks today and (inset) pictured in the Barcelona conference newsletter in 1980

Former mayor of Islington Sandy Marks today and (inset) pictured in the Barcelona conference newsletter in 1980

Ken Mears and LSE Archives

A major investigation has linked a former mayor to radical pro-paedophile activists in Archway in early 1980. EMMA YOULE reports on the Fallen Angels collective.

Sandy Marks (centre) is pictured in the IGA conference newsletter of April 1980. Picture: LSE Archives Sandy Marks (centre) is pictured in the IGA conference newsletter of April 1980. Picture: LSE Archives

It is a collection of paperwork that makes for shocking and sometimes sickening reading.

Today the Ham&High can report on the newly uncovered papers that show Archway was a nerve centre for child sex apologists in the early 1980s and expose the truth about the past of a former mayor of Islington.

After a major investigation, we can reveal the documents show:

• Sandy Marks, a former councillor who chaired Islington’s social services committee during the notorious children’s home scandal of the 1990s, attended a conference with a radical pro-paedophile activist group called the Fallen Angels in 1980;

• The Fallen Angels were based in Archway and campaigned to abolish age of consent laws and condemned child protection as “a racket”;

• Ms Marks attended a meeting of a group campaigning for charges against the vile Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) to be dropped. Also listed as attending was PIE chairman Tom O’Carroll.

Sandy Marks pictured last year after being awarded a Mayor's Civic Award for her work as a disability campaigner. Picture: Ken Mears Sandy Marks pictured last year after being awarded a Mayor's Civic Award for her work as a disability campaigner. Picture: Ken Mears

The 63-year-old said she had “no memory of the period” when confronted, before later coming clean about her pro-paedophile past.

Then as the Ham&High went to press she again changed her story to say the allegations were “untrue and unfounded”.

Islington Council has this week promised to launch a new QC-led inquiry to examine the fresh evidence.

The documents were found in archives at the London School of Economics library by graduate research student Charlotte Russell.

She was researching events leading up to the “PIE trials” in 1981 when members of the reviled group were charged with conspiracy to corrupt public morals.

“It became apparent a particularly confrontational community of N19 paedophile rights activists campaigning for PIE existed at the time – the Fallen Angels,” said Ms Russell.

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, has promised a top lawyer will examine the new evidence. Picture: Em Fitzgerald Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, has promised a top lawyer will examine the new evidence. Picture: Em Fitzgerald

A decades-old newsletter shows Sandy Marks attended a conference of the International Gay Association (IGA) in Barcelona with the Fallen Angels collective in April 1980 – which she completely denies.

At that conference workshops on paedophilia were held and the newsletter reports Fallen Angels came away having won a remarkable degree of support for the trial against PIE to be dropped.

Ms Marks denies she attended the conference.

But she is pictured in the newsletter, which lists her as a delegate, and says she is a contact person for Fallen Angels at an address in Hornsey Rise, N19, with the request: “Do not write the name of the organisation, and put ‘private’ on the envelope.”

When confronted, Ms Marks – who sits on a watchdog scrutiny panel for the Crown Prosecution Service – said she had “no memory of the period” and has “huge gaps” in recollection caused by the illness ME.

But after being shown her picture in the newsletter she said she had been manipulated at the time by those around her. The 63-year-old said she had not properly understood the views of the Fallen Angels, which included campaigning to legalise sex with children.

She insisted: “I’m not a paedophile.”

She said: “I don’t really understand how I could have been so stupid. I don’t understand how I could have got myself into it. Maybe I didn’t read the stuff – I don’t know. I can’t see me having stood up and said: ‘These are my views’.”

She added: “There’s no defence for thinking that it’s OK, but there were reasons at the time.”

She strongly denied being at a meeting of the group Conspiracy Against Public Morals on September 11, 1979 with PIE chairman Tom O’Carroll and said she did not know him.

A decade later Ms Marks went on to chair Islington’s social services committee from 1991 to 1995 at the height of paedophile sex ring allegations concerning children’s homes in the borough.

She says she acted properly in relation to the 14 subsequent inquiries into the scandal, the final of which was heavily critical of the council.

Ms Marks served as mayor in 1996.

After being told of the documents, Islington Council leader Cllr Richard Watts this week condemned support for paedophilia as “abhorrent”.

He promised to appoint a top lawyer to investigate.

“This raises new questions about the council’s response to the allegations in the 1990s,” he said. “I have instructed that we will appoint an independent QC to examine the evidence, and provide advice on the best action to take.”

Islington Survivors Network called for a new police-led inquiry into the children’s home scandal, saying: “Any person campaigning for or on behalf of paedophiles has no place working with or making decisions for vulnerable children and social services”.

Graduate research student Ms Russell recognised Ms Marks’ name in the documents after seeing it in old press cuttings about the Islington kids’ home scandal.

“I wasn’t searching for Sandy Marks in the documents,” she said.

“But I soon recognised her name was significant.”

Other periodicals and bulletins from the time show PIE hailed the Fallen Angels as “heaven sent support” after the IGA conference of April 1980.

But by January 1981 there was a vitriolic split between the two groups, when PIE denounced the Fallen Angels as “a clique of leftover intellectuals, political theorists and hydrophobic feminists”.

By this time Archway, and Islington more widely, had already become a magnet for pro-paedophile activists.

“By then Islington had become a focal point for the politicisation of paedophilia,” said Ms Russell.

* If you suffered or witnessed abuse at Islington children’s homes, you can contact the Islington Survivors’ Network via islingtonsurvivors.co.uk, or Dr Liz Davies in confidence on l.davies@londonmet.ac.uk

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