Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Kincora: MI5 knew about it but did nothing, that much is certain

There is a compelling case for the former Kincora Boys' Home in Belfast to be included in the Westminster-driven inquiry into allegations of a paedophile ring operating at the heart of the British Establishment. Picture posed
There is a compelling case for the former Kincora Boys' Home in Belfast to be included in the Westminster-driven inquiry into allegations of a paedophile ring operating at the heart of the British Establishment. Picture posed

There is no doubt that MI5 knew about the Kincora sex abuse scandal and kept it quiet.

For evidence we have the testimony of a man described by MI5 itself as an energetic, reliable and brave source of intelligence who had proved himself on many occasions. This praise was heaped on the head of a man known as 'Observer B' at the Bloody Sunday tribunal.

"My case officer told me to leave McGrath to them and I have always believed they used the information (about his sexual activities) to recruit him as an informer," Observer B told me.

He was referring to William McGrath, the housemaster of Kincora Boys' Home and one of three men later jailed for abusing youngsters in his care. Observer B, who had supplied a dossier to MI5, was promptly told to leave McGrath's Tara paramilitary group and join the UDA.

The person praising Observer B to Lord Saville's tribunal was one of his former handlers, a career MI5 agent known as 'Julian'. His evidence, which was given in London in May 2003, is preserved in the National Archives and available online.

Julian made it clear that Observer B, although not a republican, was a prized security service informant in Londonderry at the time.

Observer B was a former British Army Sergeant Major, an Englishman married to a local woman. He died in 2003, but I spoke to him in 1987 about his efforts to alert the authorities to Kincora before his handlers made his financial problems disappear to shut him up.

There was immediate confirmation of his status when Admiral William Higgins, Secretary of the Defence Advisory Committee, warned me that giving the man's whereabouts or naming his handlers would be a breach of national security and punishable as such.

But he wasn't the operative who tried to raise Kincora.

In May 1987 I published the story of a former Field Intelligence Non Commissioned Officer (FINCO). Unlike Observer B this FINCO is still alive.

In 1976 he was posted to east Belfast and became aware of Tara and McGrath. He posted a report to senior officers who told him to take no action.

McGrath had first come in contact with the intelligence community in the 1950s when he smuggled Bibles into Russia.

His handler was said to be an MI5 officer working in Old Holywood Road who was later charged with an offence against a young boy.

Such issues cannot be let lie.

Further reading

Kincora has to be part of UK probe, says victim 

Mike Nesbitt joins calls for inquiry into abuse at boys' home

Baroness's brother 'tried to limit probe into Kincora'

Theresa May under fire over appointment of Lady Butler-Sloss

MI5 'must hand over files on abuse at east Belfast boys' home'

Little: Time we knew full truth of Belfast's house of horrors

UK child abuse inquiry must look at Belfast boys' home, says Amnesty International

Editor's viewpoint: We must know truth of Kincora  

Child abuse inquiry must look at Kincora Boys' Home, says Amnesty International

MI5 'blocked exposure of Kincora sex abuse scandal'

Kincora Boy's Home scandal: South African intelligence 'secretly backed loyalist paramilitary group Tara'

Kincora Boys' Home scandal: journalist Peter McKenna dies

State papers: The perjury that allowed Kincora suspect preacher to walk

Westminster’s dark secret: abuse of children, adultery, homosexuality and sadomasochism were all seemingly lumped together

Civil servant Mark Sedwill admits Home Office ‘probably’ destroyed paedophile dossiers 

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, sister of former Tory attorney general Sir Michael Havers, to lead UK child abuse inquiry

Westminster child abuse dossier: Geoffrey Dickens also gave copy of file to top prosecutor Sir Thomas Hetherington - so why did DPP fail to act on evidence of paedophile ring? 

Historic child abuse files missing

Tory peer Lord Brittan defends handling of 1980s sex abuse dossier

Abuse claims police matter - Clegg

Abuse probe 'into soul of society'

From the archives

Kincora: Sex racket at children's home (Irish Independent, 1980)