Government adviser “gobsmacked” by Hodge comments

An independent consultant, who works as an adviser on the
government’s New Deal for Communities projects, said he is
“gobsmacked” by comments made about him by
children’s minister Margaret Hodge, writes David

Demetrious Panton, who claims he was abused in a
children’s home in the late 1970s, said he is “shocked
and horrified” that Hodge could doubt his sanity.

The BBC said Hodge wrote to its chairperson Gavyn Davies when
she learnt a reporter for the ‘Today’ programme was
investigating Panton’s case, claiming Panton was an
“extremely disturbed person”.

She was leader of Islington Council in 1985 when Panton made
allegations of sexual abuse by the head of a children’s home,
which he claims were ignored. Hodge said she was unaware of the
claims while she was leader.

The police investigated the claims after Panton approached them
for the second time in 1996. But they were unable to track down the
alleged abuser before he committed suicide three years ago.

Hodge claimed in her letter to the BBC that it was guilty of
“deplorable sensationalism”, and said it was part of a
“concerted campaign” against her.

Panton was the lead evaluator on the NDC project in North
Fulham, and also helped evaluate the West Ham and Plaistow, and
Shoreditch NDC schemes.

In a statement to Community
, Hodge said she was “taken aback” that the ‘Today’
programme had chosen to make her private letter public and
acknowledged that Panton’s experiences
in the 1970s were “dreadful”.

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