Kincora: campaigners call for Official Secrets Act suspension to allow former intelligence officers to give evidence
The Official Secrets Act should be suspended to allow former intelligence officers to give evidence about alleged cover-ups during the child abuse inquiry, campaigners have said.
First Minister Peter Robinson has also called for full access to information from intelligence agencies, labelling Kincora “a national scandal”.
An ex-soldier has claimed he was told to stop investigating sexual abuse at Kincora Boys' Home in the 1970s. Brian Gemmell said he was ordered to halt his probe into the east Belfast home by a senior MI5 officer in 1975 after presenting a report on allegations.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director, said: “The focus must be the protection of children, rather than officials and dirty secrets.
“The Home Secretary must announce the inclusion of Kincora in the inquiry and an exemption so that Army officers and others bound by the Official Secrets Act can finally speak freely.”
Home Secretary Theresa May has faced calls from Northern Ireland to include Kincora in the child abuse inquiry, established after revelations about serial sex offenders like Jimmy Savile.
In 1981 three senior care staff at Kincora were jailed for abusing boys. It has been claimed people of the “highest profile” were connected. Mr Gemmell said he found out about the abuse through two sources, including an agent called Royal Flush, while he was gathering information about loyalists.
“I was summoned to go and see him (the MI5 officer). I went up thinking he was going to be pleased with me,” he said.
“He bawled me out. He was rude and offensive and hostile.
“He told me not just to stop any investigation into Kincora, but to drop Royal Flush.”
Mr Gemmell’s call comes during the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry into child abuse in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995. Mr Robinson said the sex abuse at Kincora is a “national scandal” that must be included in the Home Office child abuse inquiry.
The first minister said he had written to the prime minister about a full investigation into Kincora.
Mr Robinson said any probe would require full access to information from intelligence agencies. “I think there has to be complete freedom on the part of those who want to give evidence to be able to do so.
“I don't think anybody is asking them to divulge national secrets, but this is a national scandal that needs to be dealt with,” he said.
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Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, who is leading the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, has said the inquiry “does not have sufficient powers” in its present form to investigate issues relating to the Army or MI5. Sir Anthony also said that “there may be benefits to the UK-wide inquiry examining the relevant allegations into Kincora Boys' Home”. The latest claims come from former soldier Brian Gemmell.
Chris Massey interview from BBC Good Morning Ulster
Chris Massey interview part 2
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