A FORMER religious preacher involved in loyalist circles, who was a suspect in the Kincora abuse scandal, walked free because of perjured evidence, the UK's most senior legal figure was told.
In a private meeting, Attorney General Michael Havers and senior Government officials were briefed on the man's links to the children's home – and how a file on his case had been destroyed.
Dozens of children were said to have been abused at Kincora, a children's home in east Belfast.
Three senior staff – William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains – were jailed in 1981 for the abuse, but there have been suggestions of a mass cover-up by the Secret Service, which was rumoured to be protecting high-ranking paedophiles in the military, Civil Service and politics.
Today's revelations will fuel those suspicions. The scandal is referred to in several files released by the Public Record Office under the 30-year rule. However, the files have been redacted with key papers removed – while one file couldn't be found.
One file contains a note of the private meeting in February 1982 attended by senior members of the political and legal establishment, including the Attorney General, Secretary of State Jim Prior, the Lord Chancellor Quintin Hogg and Sir William Bourne, a barrister and senior civil servant.
Just before the meeting, Mr Havers had spoken to the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland.
According to the memo, Mr Havers learned that the RUC was investigating three separate aspects of the Kincora affair.
"The first concerned a man... who in 1972 was falsely acquitted on the basis of perjured evidence; the file on his case has subsequently been destroyed by a bomb," the memo reports.
Mr Havers was also told how the man may have withheld information on a notorious murder which took place nine years earlier.
The body of 10-year-old Brian McDermott was discovered in a sack in the River Lagan in September, 1973. No one was ever convicted of the killing. The meeting was told that the information provided "conflicted with what the RUC had previously told ministers and officials".
The Kincora scandal first emerged in January 1980.
It was later claimed the RUC had been informed of the abuse at the home years earlier but did nothing. McGrath, who was leader of an obscure loyalist paramilitary group called Tara, was said to be on the payroll of MI5 and MI6.
A confidential Government note in the files said: "It is claimed that influence was brought to bear on the police not to pursue their enquiries."
It added: "There are persistent rumours that 'guilty men' in high places have not been brought to justice." The note concluded that it was unlikely the "vague rumours" would be substantiated.