Hodge in row over comments to BBC

An independent consultant who works as an adviser to the government
on its New Deal for Communities projects said he was “gobsmacked”
by comments made about him by children and young people’s minister
Margaret Hodge.

Hodge wrote a private letter to the BBC’s chairperson when she
learned a reporter for the Today programme was
investigating the case of Demetrious Panton, who claims he was
abused in a children’s home in the 1970s. She claimed Panton was an
“extremely disturbed person”.

Hodge was leader of Islington Council in 1985 when Panton made
allegations of sexual abuse by the head of a children’s home, which
he says 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 said she was “taken aback” at Today‘s decision to
make her private letter public and acknowledged that Panton’s
experiences in the 1970s were “dreadful”.

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