Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking, and her spouse

Margaret Hodge is a very interesting woman. Her maiden name is Margaret Oppenheimer, her father was a German Jewish steel trader, her mother was an Austrian Jew. She was born in Egypt, her family moved to London just after the war. She was educated at Bromley High School and went on to the London School of Economics.

She has been married twice. Her second husband, Sir Henry Hodge, was a fellow Labour borough councillor and Chairman for the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as Liberty). He was a solicitor, but is now a circuit judge. I think I did mention that the NCCL were linked to the Paedophile Information Exchange in my previous blog.

Margaret Hodge was elected councillor in Islington in 1973. She was associated with a group of newly elected, activist, largely middle-class councillors who were viewed with varying degrees of antagonism by some established Labour Party councillors. She rapidly became Chairman of the Housing Committee. At one point, Hodge's deputy chairman was Jack Straw. The end of her period at Islington, before taking up her Parliamentary career, was marred by criticism of her response (in 1985) to serious child abuse allegations.

In 1985, Demetrious Panton complained about abuse that he had suffered while in the council's care in the 70s and 80s. He did not receive an official reply until 1989, in which the council denied responsibility.

In 1990 Liz Davies, a senior social worker employed by the borough and her manager David Cofie, raised concerns about sexual abuse of children in Islington Council Care. Correspondence between Hodge and the Director of Social Work indicates that she declined a request for extra resources to investigate. In early 1992 Liz Davies resigned from her post and requested that Scotland Yard investigate the allegations. The Evening Standard then began reporting on the allegations of abuse in Islingtons children's homes, shortly after which Hodge resigned. In 1995 the White Report into sexual abuse in Islington Care homes reported that the council had failed to adequately investigate the allegations.

In 2003, following Hodge's appointment as Minister for Children, Demetrious Panton went public with his allegation that he was abused in Islington Council care and had repeatedly raised this issue with no effect. He holds Margaret Hodge ultimately responsible for the abuse that he suffered. Liz Davies the social worker also went public with the issues that she had raised concerns about while working for the council.

Following a media campaign conducted by several national newspapers calling for her to resign from her new post, she responded to Panton by letter, in which she referred to him as 'extremely disturbed'. Panton then passed the letter to the press which planned to publish it, only to be judicially restrained from doing so at the instruction of Hodge. The letter was eventually published, mainly on the grounds that the blocking of the letter was seen as disproportionate. Hodge was forced to publicly apologise and offered to contribute to a charity of the man's choosing as recompense. This effectively ended the affair in the eyes of the press, although the affair remains a blot on her political record.

How Margaret Hodge voted on key issues since 2001:

So much for Margaret Hodge. Her husband, Sir Henry Hodge is just as interesting. He does seem to have a great deal of empathy for rapists and not too much concern for their victims. It is very strange.

From the Daily Express Wednesday October 31,2007


By John Chapman

A JUDGE yesterday vetoed the deportation of a serial sex attacker because it would breach his human right to a family life.

The decision by immigration judge Sir Henry Hodge caused a storm of protest last night – led by the victim of one attack.

Mother-of-two Gabrielle Browne, 42, said she was “disgusted” by the ruling, which means Mohammed Kendeh will not be booted out and sent back to his native Sierra Leone.

Waiving her right to anonymity, Mrs Browne said: “It’s a shameful decision which makes my blood boil.  Where is the justice in this?

“I was a victim of Kendeh and I did not want anyone else to go through the ordeal I went through. Kendeh must be laughing at the law.

“Before the attack I felt secure in my everyday life.  Now I am in pieces and constantly feel on edge as if I am under threat.”

The Home Office had sought to deport 20-year-old Kendeh, who has a high risk of re-offending.

He admitted indecently assaulting 11 women in the past five years and has committed a string of other offences including robbery, burglary, arson and drugs.

But Sir Henry – husband of Labour minister Margaret Hodge – ruled that Kendeh should be allowed to stay because he came to the UK at the age of six and has almost no family left in West Africa.

To support his decision, he cited article eight of the Human Rights Act, which gives a person the right to a family life. He agreed with an earlier ruling that Kendeh was effectively “one of us” because he had come to the UK at such an early age and had only a grandparent in his country of birth.

Sir Henry, president of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal on appeal, is a long-standing human rights campaigner and a former chairman of the National Council for Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty.

Mrs Browne, from south London, said the decision was absurd because Kendeh has a “very poor emotional relationship with his parents”.

She explained: “He does not have a relationship with his family here so why not deport him to Sierra Leone where he can start afresh?

“It is not a reason to keep him in the UK. He is a very violent and dangerous offender.

“The attack has had a devastating effect on my life. My freedom has been taken away.”

The case once again highlights the difficulty in deporting foreign criminals because of human rights law and is embarrassing for the Government.

In another high-profile case recently, Italian-born Learco Chindamo, who murdered head teacher Philip Lawrence, was allowed to stay in the UK after a judicial review. 

Mrs Browne, who works for a legal firm, was attacked in 2003 as she jogged around a park near her home.
Kendeh, from Peckham, dragged her into bushes and sexually assaulted her.

Mrs Browne said: “He jumped in front of me, grinned, and as I tried to take a step, his right arm came out and grabbed me around the neck.

“His whole focus was on trying to remove my lower clothing. I feared that if I shouted out he would pull a knife.

“I punched him but he still carried on. So I hit him harder. But he just smashed me in my mouth.”

He pushed her to the ground, re­moved her clothing and began to molest her.

“I thought he was going to rape me,” she said. “He only didn’t because I fought him off – by now I was kicking him hard – or because he heard somebody.”

She said of the latest court decision: “I feel let down. How is it right that somebody who has offended so seriously against defenceless women is allowed to remain in this country?”

Mrs Browne, who has been married for 14 years, said: “I am trying to keep going. I still go jogging and am going to compete in the New York mara­thon on Sunday. I will not allow Kendeh to destroy my life.”

Her husband Neill, 42, said: “It’s about time the rights of the victim were taken into account. This evil man has devastated our family.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed with the court’s decision.”

She added: “New legislation passed today will link criminality much more closely with deportation, meaning that foreign national prisoners will face automatic consideration of de­portation where they have committed a serious crime.”

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: “This is yet another judgment that demonstrates we simply no longer have control over who does and does not stay in our country, no matter how evil their deeds may be.”

Thanks to Wikipedia, They Work For You and the Daily Express.

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