Eileen Fairweather

Eileen and I met in 1991 when she began to investigate the Islington child abuse scandal.
Our first meeting was memorable because although she came from outside London to meet me at Kings Cross station I didn’t show up because I was so frightened.
Social workers of course can be dismissed for having any contact with the media that is not approved by their employer.  At the time the police were working with me to expose the child abuse scandal and Eileen played an important role in that process.
While social workers avoid all contact with the media, the police know how to work with particular journalists in a positive way. Eileen and Stewart Payne (senior reporter on the Evening Standard) investigated the abuse of children in Islington for many months until the story broke in the Evening Standard in October 1992. Stewart and Eileen presented a comprehensive dossier of evidence to the police and the Social Services Inspectorate and won the Reporting Team of the Year award for the Islington investigation in the 1993 British Press Awards. Because I was working as a child protection manager in a different authority, my name was kept out of the media until Margaret Hodge was appointed Minister for Children in 2003.
The Editor of the Evening Standard then asked me if I would support the Islington survivors who were opposing the appointment of Margaret Hodge to this post. I agreed to do this because I was then working at London Metropolitan University and I was in a better position to speak with the media.
Eileen and I have since worked together on over 200 stories about the protection of children. These are listed on this website. She also wrote a chapter entitled, ‘The Islington Child Abuse Scandal’ in Hunt, G. Whistleblowing in the social services. London. Hodder Arnold. Eileen taught me most of what I now know about working with the media in a safe and positive way to protect children and represent the views of those working to protect children.
There has to be a safe way to draw public and political attention to the abuse of children or to professionals who are being silenced about exposing abuse. Sensitive, accurate media coverage is an important way of promoting and achieving justice for vulnerable children.