By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
A former detective was “steered” away from investigating what happened at a children’s home run by a convicted child sex offender.
Dr Clive Driscoll joined Lambeth’s child protection team as a detective inspector in 1998.
On Friday he told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), looking into decades of abuse of children under Lambeth council’s care, that he was steered away from looking into abuse at Angell Road after naming prominent people in a meeting with council staff.
The home was run by Michael John Carroll from 1981 to 1991, despite Lambeth knowing about his child sex offence conviction – he was fired for “financial irregularities”.
In 1999, Carroll was convicted of a host of child abuse offences on boys in the north west and in Lambeth at Liverpool Crown Court. He was jailed for 10 years.
Dr Driscoll, who led the investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder which secured two convictions, said there was a “joint” and “concerted effort on behalf of Lambeth” to stop him investigating what had happened.
He said: “There was a worry that paedophiles were employing paedophiles to bring them in.
“There was a group of people that used to go to Angell Road – they certainly didn’t appear to have any right to be there.”
He said concerns were raised to him that council staff “were involved in a wide variety of criminal activity, including corruption, bribery, child abuse and children being sold into the sex industry”.
In his statement he also said that he was told that two cleaners from Angell Road who had tried to report abuse were sacked.
Dr Driscoll said Theresa Johnson, a social worker who worked under Carroll at Angell Road, had told him that money for the children was being stolen and that parties were taking place in a room called ‘John’s flat’.
He said: “She was at first was quite reluctant to talk.
“She felt quite let down by the police. But eventually we convinced her that we were just trying our hardest and we’d give it as good a go as we could.
“She did come forward and she did give an account of what she saw.
“Her concerns were that money was being stolen, money for the children was being stolen, that food for the children was being stolen, that parties were taking place in a flat which had the title ‘John’s flat’, but [the flat] wasn’t a flat.
“It should have been a rest room of the staff but he converted it.
“And people were coming at different times to that home, not connected to the home, not people like social workers, not people who had a right to be there, and were going up to the flat and parties were taking place,” he said.
Dr Driscoll told the inquiry that Ms Johnson said police officers had also attended but she didn’t know their names.
“What she did say was that she’d got people to sign a book, a visiting book.
“That’s what she actually said: ‘I insisted they signed a book’.
“That’s what I actually went looking for. I asked many times at the meetings on a Friday, ‘Can I have the files, everything to do with Angell Road’, and I was always told, ‘We haven’t got them. Squatters destroyed them’,” he said, adding he never found the visiting book.
He said Ms Johnson also told him about a politician who had visited Angell Road and spoken to a child.
Clair Dobbin, counsel to the inquiry, asked if he had been pressurised “from people within Lambeth”.
He said: “100 per cent. They wanted me to not go to Angell Road and they really wanted to steer the investigation.
“That’s the opinion I got.”
Dr Driscoll also spoke about the work done by the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association, led by Raymond Stevenson and Lucia Hinton.
He said: “I keep coming back to the same thing: how is it that two incredibly noble people, Mr Stevenson and Ms Hinton, with even a fraction of the resources that social services and the police have, have managed to put together 600-plus cases and actually that are tested by Lambeth council’s lawyers and also a copper that’s ex-fraud squad and get a £44 million pay-out?
“How has that happened when we were the agency that should investigate and we were the agency that should have been focusing [the victims’ needs]?”
Pictured top: Shirley Oaks survivors dropping roses off Brighton pier
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.