Belfast Telegraph

Kincora: campaigners call for Official Secrets Act suspension to allow former intelligence officers to give evidence

Kincora Boy's Home in east Belfast
Kincora Boy's Home in east Belfast
Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart
William McGrath who abused young boys in the east Belfast home
An ex-Army intelligence officer claims he was ordered to halt his investigation into Kincora Boys' Home by a senior MI5 officer in 1975
Dark secrets: Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast, where children were abused for years

By Scott D'Arcy

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.

Story so far

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


Further reading

Secrets Act call over abuse inquiry

State can't ignore abuse at Kincora Boys Home under secret watch

Paisley's dead pastor friend linked to Kincora abuse

Kincora probe has to access secret files, says former Army officer Colin Wallace

Kincora: MP Keith Vaz backs call for east Belfast home to be included in UK-wide inquiry 

I will reveal the secrets, says ex-Army officer Colin Wallace  

How Colin Wallace's world turned upside down  

Now it's no longer merely a Northern Ireland nightmare

Chance to uncover Kincora Boys' Home truth

Kincora abuse horror: Claims not incredible: ex-police chief

MI5 knew about it but did nothing, that much is certain 

Full story of Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast yet to be told, says child sex abuse victim

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt joins calls for inquiry into abuse at boys' home

Baroness's brother 'tried to limit probe into Kincora'

MI5 'must hand over files on abuse at east Belfast boys' home' 

Editor's viewpoint: We must know truth of Kincora

Child abuse inquiry must look at Kincora Boys' Home, says Amnesty International

MI5 'blocked exposure of Kincora sex abuse scandal'

South African intelligence 'secretly backed loyalist paramilitary group Tara'

Kincora Boys' Home scandal: journalist Peter McKenna dies

State papers: The perjury that allowed Kincora suspect preacher to walk

Westminster’s dark secret: abuse of children, adultery, homosexuality and sadomasochism were all seemingly lumped together

Civil servant Mark Sedwill admits Home Office ‘probably’ destroyed paedophile dossiers 

Westminster child abuse dossier: Geoffrey Dickens also gave copy of file to top prosecutor Sir Thomas Hetherington - so why did DPP fail to act on evidence of paedophile ring? 

Historic child abuse files missing

Tory peer Lord Brittan defends handling of 1980s sex abuse dossier

Abuse claims police matter - Clegg

Abuse probe 'into soul of society'

From the archives

Kincora: Sex racket at children's home (Irish Independent, 1980)

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