Hodge apologises in high court

Margaret Hodge

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge has apologised in the high court
to a government adviser, who was abused as a child, for remarks she
made doubting his sanity.

Hodge apologised for sending a private letter to the BBC in
which she described Demetrious Panton as an “extremely disturbed
person”. She sent the letter after learning a reporter from Radio
4’s ‘Today’ programme planned to investigate claims Panton was
abused in a children’s home in the 1970s.

Hodge made a statement of apology in the high court on
Wednesday, will make a donation of £10,000 to rehabilitation
agency Nacro and pay Panton’s legal costs.

Panton reported the abuse to Islington Council in the 1980s when
Hodge was leader of the council. She said she does not remember his
case, but later described his experiences as “dreadful”.

The police investigated Panton’s claims for a second time in
1996, but were unable to track down the abuser before he committed
suicide three years ago.

He was relieved the episode was now over: “I am happy that it is
drawing to a close and I can get on with my life. It has been an
awful seven days.

“She has withdrawn the remark unreservedly and accepted that
those (comments) should never have been made,” he said.

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

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