Hodge returns as tourism minister

Kunal Dutta
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:23

Margaret Hodge has rejoined the Government to resume her position as culture and tourism minister after a year of compassionate leave.

The MP for Barking stepped down almost a year ago to care for her terminally ill husband, Sir Henry Hodge, who died aged 65 in June from acute myeloid leukaemia.

She takes the post left vacant by Sarah McCarthy-Fry, who moved to the Treasury in June after Kitty Ussher quit over expenses allegations.

Ms Hodge was the first Children's minister under Tony Blair's government in 2003. In the post she became embroiled in several high-profile controversies, the most famous of which related to an inquiry into child abuse allegations in Islington, dating back to her time as council leader there from 1982 to 1992.

In November 2003 Demetrious Panton alleged that he was abused while in Islington council care and accused Ms Hodge of being ultimately responsible. She retaliated with a complaint letter to the BBC in which she branded him "an extremely disturbed person", a move that led to numerous calls for her resignation despite her making an apology.

Ms Hodge's stance on family affairs has frequently come under fire. In 2004 Fathers 4 Justice campaigner Jonathan Stanesby handcuffed himself to her, describing her as the "bogeywoman of family law, who doesn't even believe in equal parenting".

In April 2006 she said that working class voters were tempted to vote for the BNP because "no one else is listening to them". It was a move that led to accusations of "magnifying the propaganda of the BNP".

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