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Kincora exclusion from UK-wide abuse inquiry to remain, says Theresa Villiers

Published 23/07/2015

Theresa Villiers says the best forum to examine claims of political involvement in Kincora is a Stormont-established inquiry
Theresa Villiers says the best forum to examine claims of political involvement in Kincora is a Stormont-established inquiry

The disclosure of secret state files on abuse allegations at a notorious Belfast boys home will not prompt a Government re-think on its exclusion from a UK-wide abuse inquiry.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said the best forum to examine claims of political involvement in a paedophile ring that operated from Kincora was an on-going Stormont-established inquiry, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, not the nationwide probe being chaired by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard.

Campaigners for Kincora's inclusion in the UK-wide inquiry have highlighted that the Northern Ireland-specific probe does not have the powers to compel security services witnesses to give evidence or produce documents.

"The Hart inquiry is doing an exceptionally good job," Ms Villiers said. "We feel that is the right forum to investigate these despicable events which took place at Kincora.

"Like everyone else we want to ensure that the truth is discovered, that these events are fully investigated and we believe the Hart inquiry is the best forum to do that."

Paedophiles abused boys from the Kincora home in east Belfast during the 1970s.

While three staff members were convicted in 1981, it has long been alleged that well-known figures in the British establishment - including senior politicians - were also involved.

Moreover, it has been claimed that the UK security services knew about the crimes but did nothing to stop them, instead using the knowledge to blackmail and extract intelligence from influential men who were committing abuse.

Amnesty International is among campaigners making fresh calls for Kincora's inclusion in Justice Goddard's inquiry following the discovery of a series of confidential government files.

The Home Office said the papers were uncovered during a fresh search of the archives, carried out after a file emerged that should have been submitted to a Government-established inquiry examining whether evidence linking prominent figures to child abuse was deliberately destroyed.

Kincora Boys Home in Belfast
Kincora Boys Home in Belfast

The contents of the freshly-located files have not been made public but the Cabinet Office has provided brief descriptions.

The papers included a file about former Northern Ireland minister and Conservative MP Sir William Van Straubenzee which also "contained references to the Kincora boys home".

Another group of papers contain allegations made by former military intelligence officer Colin Wallace about Kincora. It is known that Mr Wallace claimed the intelligence services blocked police investigations in the 1970s into alleged abuse at the home.

The Cabinet Office said that group of papers also references Mr Van Straubenzee, as well as former cabinet minister Leon Brittan; Peter Morrison, an aide to Margaret Thatcher; and ex-diplomat and former deputy director of MI6, Sir Peter Hayman.

A former resident of Kincora, Gary Hoy, is currently making a legal challenge against the Government's refusal to include the facility in the Justice Goddard probe.

Ms Villiers said all relevant documentation was being made available to the Hart inquiry.

"The Government is determined to do all it can to co-operate with the Hart inquiry on these matters and provide whatever we can in terms of disclosure," she said.

"That's what is happening and we are determined to make sure we do all we can to co-operate with a thorough investigation into these matters by the Hart inquiry."

Amnesty's Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan questioned the Government's stance.

"Nothing less than a full public inquiry - with all the powers of compulsion which that brings - can finally reveal what happened at Kincora," he said.

"It is not too late for the Government to reconsider its position."

A number of Kincora residents expressed concern at the discovery of the documents.

Kevin Winters, a solicitor representing the men, said it appeared that Kincora was at "the centre of a sex ring of institutional abuse" used by members of the British establishment and senior figures within the loyalist community in Northern Ireland.

"Our clients have no faith in the HIA (Stormont's Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry) in being able to effectively investigate these matters to the necessary human rights standards," he said.

"Now the Cabinet Office in London has seen fit to pass files relating to Kincora to the HIA.

"Previously this had not been possible because they 'were discovered because they had not been properly catalogued' - whatever that means."

He added: "It is clear that these documents support the demands of our clients for an independent statutory inquiry into Kincora - with full victim participation and compliant with human rights standards required of such investigations when human violations of the most appalling kind are the subject of judicial scrutiny.

"As part of this process complete disclosure of relevant material held by the British Government must be made available to the representatives of the victims so that their rights to truth, justice and accountability can be secured to partially assuage the stains of the crimes against them."

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