MI5 'would have acted over sexual abuse at Kincora'
A retired MI5 officer has insisted the agency would have been duty-bound to take action if it had uncovered evidence of abuse at Kincora boys' home.
The officer, known as 9347, was giving evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which is examining claims that intelligence groups covered up crimes by a paedophile ring in the notorious east Belfast home in order to blackmail alleged high-profile abusers.
Senior care workers Joseph Mains, Raymond Semple and William McGrath were convicted for abusing boys at Kincora in 1980, but it has long been alleged that other, more prominent figures, including politicians, judges, civil servants and police officers, were also involved.
It has also been claimed that McGrath, who had links to a shadowy Protestant paramilitary organisation known as Tara, was working as an MI5 agent.
Officer 9347 was questioned about a classified MI5 document from 1982 relating to a military intelligence officer who in 1975 sought permission to interview a man with alleged links to McGrath and Tara.
The officer was told he could go ahead, but he was instructed to avoid questioning the suspect about "deviant sexual activity".
The officer who sought permission was Brian Gemmell, who later went public with claims that MI5 warned him against investigating abuse at Kincora. Mr Gemmell said he was told to stay clear after filing a report to a senior officer on allegations related to the home.
Officer 9347, who succeeded the officer who Mr Gemmell claimed warned him off, suggested the "deviant sexual activity" referred to claims of homosexuality among Tara members, and not child abuse.
Giving evidence via video-link, he said MI5 was not interested in the sexuality of Tara members, and that it would have acted if it had found evidence of abuse.
The officer told the inquiry that if "serious criminal activities appeared in the course of intelligence operations, we would be bound to report it to relevant authorities".
The inquiry continues.