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Labour to include Kincora in probe

Published 10/04/2015

Former Kincora residents Gary Hoy (left) and Richard Kerr fought to challenge the Government's refusal to order a statutory inquiry into crimes committed there
Former Kincora residents Gary Hoy (left) and Richard Kerr fought to challenge the Government's refusal to order a statutory inquiry into crimes committed there

Labour has said it would include the sexual abuse of boys in the notorious Kincora home in a UK-wide inquiry if it wins the General Election.

A former Army intelligence officer has claimed spy chiefs ordered him to "stop digging" when he reported a possible paedophile ring at the Northern Ireland children's home.

Last July, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a major public investigation into whether paedophiles were sheltered in government, the NHS, police, the courts and the BBC. Kincora was excluded.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Ivan Lewis said: "It is vital that we support the survivors, ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice and ensure this never happens again in our country."

Brian Gemill, a former captain in the Intelligence Corps, claimed he was told to stop investigating sexual abuse at the East Belfast boys' home in the 1970s.

He told the BBC he was ordered to halt his probe into Kincora Boys' Home in Northern Ireland by a senior MI5 officer in 1975 after presenting a report on the allegations.

Great Britain's public inquiry has since been rocked by the resignations of two people selected to be its chair - Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf - following accusations that they were too close to the establishment to be independent.

In February it was announced that the inquiry would be chaired by Justice Dame Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand High Court judge.

A separate judge-led inquiry in Northern Ireland is due to probe events at Kincora but cannot formally compel MI5 to hand over documents or force witnesses to testify.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has said the UK government and its agencies, including the Ministry of Defence and MI5 would give the HIA inquiry "the fullest possible degree of co-operation".

In 1981 three senior care staff at the east Belfast Kincora home were jailed for abusing 11 boys and it has been claimed that people of the "highest profile" were connected.

Mr Lewis said: "The suffering of the victims at Kincora Boys Home is unimaginable. Like all abuse, it will scar survivors for the rest of their lives.

"What is even more appalling is the idea that this abuse was not isolated but was part of a wider pattern of child abuse that occurred in institutions across the United Kingdom."

He pledged an incoming Labour Government will include Kincora in the terms of reference of the abuse inquiry headed by Justice Goddard.

"We will take all necessary steps to secure truth and justice for the victims."

The home employed William McGrath, the head of an extreme Protestant loyalist group called Tara and an alleged MI5 informant.

He and two other members of staff - William Semple and Joseph Mains - were jailed in 1981 for sexually assaulting boys in their care.

In February, lawyers for victims challenging the refusal to include Kincora in Justice Goddard's wide-ranging inquiry told the High Court in Belfast that MI5 was aware of the abuse but allowed it to continue to protect those responsible from prosecution.

Amnesty International Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: "We call on all parties to make a similar pledge to deliver truth and justice to the Kincora victims.

"The claims relating to Kincora are deeply disturbing - that MI5 turned a blind eye to child abuse and actively blocked a police investigation, instead using the paedophile ring for its own intelligence-gathering purposes."

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