Hackney council splits over inquiry

Labour Party claims rebels exploited row over alleged abuse cover- up

An independent inquiry into allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse in Hackney children's homes was ordered by a stormy council meeting early yesterday.

The issue has been seized on by rebel Labour councillors who this week set up their own party, depriving the official Labour Party of its majority in the north-east London borough.

The special council meeting finally voted at 1am yesterday to set up an inquiry into why Mark Trotter, a local Labour activist, was employed as a care worker at a children's home in Hackney.

Trotter died of an Aids-related illness last year, just before the police told Hackney council they had been poised to prosecute him for sexually abusing five boys in 1980-81 when he lived in Merseyside.

A Labour spokesman told The Independent the issue had been exploited as part of the "foulest sort of political game" by the rebel councillors, who were looking for an excuse to set up a rival party in Hackney.

But Philip Pearson, one of the 17 rebels who call themselves the Hackney New Labour Group, said: "This has been a double blow for Tony Blair. He and his cronies on the [Labour] National Executive are backing the wrong Labour group in Hackney."

The rebels, some of whom had already been disciplined by the National Executive for operating a "party within a party" called the Manifesto Group, accused the council leadership of delay in looking into the Trotter affair, and of trying to avoid a full independent inquiry.

The official Labour Party fought back yesterday. It pointed out that the two councillors who chaired the social services committee and who had known about the Trotter allegations since August last year, are both rebels. A Labour spokesman insisted that the council leadership decided to set up an independent inquiry as soon as the allegations were made known to the whole council two months ago.

And it was claimed that Cynthia Thomas O'Garrow, an elderly councillor who suffers from cataracts, was induced to sign a letter saying that she was joining the rebels after being told that it was demanding an inquiry into the Trotter charges. She later withdrew it.

The political effects of this week's defection by the Labour rebels are likely to be surprisingly limited. Despite claims by Hackney New Labour to have "forged links with" the 10 Liberal Democrats and eight Conservatives on the council, it seems the opposition parties will have nothing to do with the breakaways. The official Labour Party, led by a reinstated John McCafferty, seems set to go on running the council.

Local government in Hackney has been an embarrassment to democracy for three decades. Against a background of the tortured politics of the Hackney Labour Party, fraud and incompetence have flourished. Controversy in recent years has focused on the role of Bernard Crofton, the "fraudbusting" housing chief portrayed equally as part of Hackney's problem and as part of its salvation.

One former Labour activist in Hackney must be hugely relieved that he failed to become a councillor. In 1982 he put himself forward to be a Labour candidate, but was not selected. Twelve years later, Tony Blair was leader of the Labour Party. Now he might have to clean up the mess in government.

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on