Belfast hospital's paedophile doctor and unanswered questions that won't go away
The case of serial sex abuser Dr Morris Fraser should have rung bells when Niall Meehan sent his report on it to Judge Anthony Hart's Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry... so why didn't it?
Dr Morris Fraser is a career paedophile whose abuse of boys was detected in 1971, but whose position as a doctor, after four abuse convictions, ended voluntarily in 1995. Why was he not stopped when the RUC confirmed Fraser's abuse in October 1971? Sir Anthony Hart's Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) should have investigated. It is a mystery why it did not do so.
Fraser used his post as a Royal Victoria Hospital child psychiatrist, and role as a scout leader on Belfast's Antrim Road, to target children. In the early 1970s, a contrived panic about the effect of the Troubles on children gave Fraser an international media profile.
Like a lot of abusers, Fraser conspired with others and became a manipulating liar.
Two institutions supposed to safeguard the public should have halted Fraser in his tracks, the police and the General Medical Council. The doctors' body spent over a year faffing about, but faced extraordinary levels of police non-cooperation. In turn, police minimised Fraser's crimes and refused to tell his employer about their celebrity doctor.
Two policemen who prosecuted Fraser are alive.
One, an RUC officer, participated in the 1983 Terry police inquiry into the Kincora Boys Home paedophile scandal. He spoke anonymously to the BBC about Fraser last year.
Two factors that should have been a spur to finding out seem instead to have inhibited the HIAI. Both are linked to Kincora.
The inquiry seemed determined not to link Kincora to security force collusion, to significant loyalist paramilitary activity, and attempts to suborn adults who made use of a linked paedophile prostitution ring.
One factor is Colin Wallace. He attempted in the early to mid-1970s, while a British Army intelligence officer, to expose the role of Kincora paedophile William McGrath. Wallace became a victim of security force infighting, to the extent of being framed and imprisoned for a manslaughter he did not commit. He was eventually entirely exonerated.
The second factor is Richard Kerr, a Kincora victim who reported that Morris Fraser was responsible for an early experience of institutional abuse.
For some reason best known to itself the HIAI report went to extraordinary lengths to undermine the testimony of these victims of injustice, who did not appear before it, and demonstrated naivety in unquestioned acceptance of testimony from police and intelligence sources.
Any hint of security force collusion with paedophiles was sufficient to provoke the inquiry's disinterest.
The HIAI even smeared Roy Garland, whose sincere efforts in the early 1970s are largely responsible for the Kincora scandal emerging in 1980.
Last June I sent the inquiry a submission and my March 2016 report on Fraser. I wrote again in August. The submission appears to have suffered from the HIAI's Kincora groupthink. But reference to Kincora is not necessary to investigate Fraser.
I asked the inquiry to investigate why the RUC and London Metropolitan Police failed to inform hospital authorities that Fraser was responsible for sexual abuse of two Belfast boys in London, aged 10 and 13, in August 1971.
The RUC investigated the allegation initially and took Fraser's October 21, 1971 statement. He admitted abuse and revealed he was in cahoots with another paedophile, Ian Bell, who had joined him on an earlier scouting trip, that included sleeping with boys in tents. They selected three boys to accompany Fraser, Bell (plus Bell's flatmate), from Belfast to the London apartment of the third man. It was decked out like a boys' playground, in other words like a paedophile den.
Bell admitted to me last year that the boys were plied with alcohol and claimed that was Fraser's idea of 'therapy'.
After the boys returned to Belfast, a complaint reached police regarding the 13-year-old. Fraser was charged with abusing him. Bell abused the 10-year-old. Fraser claimed that the third man slept in the same room as the third boy. He was not charged.
That was an anomaly. More arrived thick and fast.
Fraser's guilty plea at Bow Street Magistrate's Court on May 17, 1972 was not reported by news media, possibly because he appeared at 9.35pm. He paid a £50 fine and received a three-year conditional discharge. Fraser claimed that his child victim corrupted him, a fantastic lie police promoted and magistrates, plus the GMC later, accepted. Fraser testified, without contradiction, to fleeting oral sexual contact. Yet the boy had come to official attention in hospital, where it was 'found that he had been interfered with'. That suggested physical injury. Furthermore, the RUC detective who arrested Fraser said on BBC last year that Fraser's victim showed signs of rape.
Ian Bell appeared at 11.14pm. He claimed innocence of the charge. At Crown Court later he changed to guilty and received six-months, suspended.
Bell and Fraser's separate treatment, that seems designed for Fraser's benefit, obscured evidence of a paedophile conspiracy.
Be that as it may, after conviction, the RUC still did not inform the Northern Ireland Hospital Authority that their famous child psychiatrist was a child abuser.
The guilty paedophile was the main speaker at a Jordanstown ISPCC conference one week later. The Irish Times reported Fraser warning that all Northern Ireland children were in danger, from the Troubles rather than from paedophile psychiatrists.
Fraser continued appearing in newspapers and on TV in Ireland, Britain and the USA, pontificating about the conflict. He continued assessing vulnerable children. Richard Kerr testified convincingly on the BBC that Fraser took Polaroid photographs of his genitals. That was a hallmark of Fraser's later paedophile persona. The Hart inquiry report's dismissive treatment of Kerr compounds the abuse he suffered as a child.
It was only after a publicised arrest in New York in May 1973, as part of a nine-man US paedophile-ring, that Fraser was removed from his post. One week after that, one year late, police sent a certificate of Fraser's May 1972 conviction to the NI Hospital Authority.
It is surprising that the Hart Inquiry did not investigate why police permitted an admitted abuser to continue interacting with institutionalised children. Were it not for publicised detection of Fraser's new crimes, presumably he would have done so indefinitely. A further anomaly lies in Fraser's 1974 US abuse conviction, that violated his 1972 conditional discharge. That should have seen him back before a British court. It never happened.
The HIAI has not explained its inaction. The failure casts light on the inquiry's approach to the Kincora scandal.
That approach extended to censoring information in the public domain from Colin Wallace. Wallace mentioned one time Unionist Party Westminster MP, Sir Knox Cunningham, plus other prominent figures said to have had contact with McGrath on both sides of the Irish border during the 1960s.
Cunningham provides an interesting link to paedophilia after 1970. The Spring 1977 edition of the Lyric Players journal Threshold contains a section entitled 'Letters from Forrest Reid' to Cunningham, and an essay on Reid by his biographer, then Queen's (later Essex) University academic Brian Taylor.
Reid, a Northern Ireland novelist, was also a paedophile, an interest his biographer shared.
Taylor had written 'Motives for guilt free pederasty' in 1976. He edited Perspectives on Paedophilia in 1981, that contained a chapter by a notorious abuser, Peter Righton, and one by Morris Fraser.
Taylor, Fraser and Righton were members of the 1970s Paedophile Information Exchange. Taylor was its 'information officer'.
Why the Hart inquiry censored information in the public domain about Cunningham and his connections is unknown. Northern Ireland writer Robin Bryans published on it in 1992 and was not sued. Ironically, the inquiry ignored a hitherto unpublished allegation that Thomas Passmore, a leading Orange Order official who died in 1989, was a paedophile.
Only HIAI members can answer the questions raised here. Over to them.
Dr Niall Meehan teaches at Griffith College, Dublin