MI5 ‘uncovered a VIP paedophile ring operating at a Belfast boys’ home in the 1970s – but used information to blackmail the abusers rather than stop abuse’
- Kincora Boys’ Home is accused of having housed a paedophile ring
- Inquiry hears claims that secret services knew about the abuse and used it to blackmail the perpetrators
- Hearing is intended to determine whether State helped cover up crimes
British security services may have known that children were being abused at a notorious boys’ home in Belfast and used the information to blackmail the paedophiles, a public inquiry heard today.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry will investigate whether the State helped to ‘connive, collude, orchestrate, utilise, exploit or cover up’ years of abuse at the Kincora Boys’ Home in the 1970s.
The hearing was told today that the name ‘Kincora’ had become synonymous with claims of abuse and official cover-ups.
It has long been alleged that a high-ranking paedophile ring operated out of the former boys’ home during the 1970s.
Abuse: It has long been claimed that a high-ranking paedophile ring operated at Kincora Boys’ Home, pictured
It is also claimed that the UK security services knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it, instead using the information to blackmail the influential men involved, including senior politicians, to get information from them.
In 1981, three senior care workers at Kincora were jailed for abusing boys – one of whom, William McGrath, was believed to have been an MI5 agent.
Barrister Joseph Aiken, counsel to the long-running inquiry, said: ‘Although it is an established fact that children were abused by staff in Kincora, this inquiry in addition has to address, amongst others, a range of extraordinary allegations.
‘Not that the State failed to prevent abuse because of missed opportunities or ineffective systems of oversight and regulation but that it, with deliberation and planning, cynically orchestrated and utilised the abuse of children it was supposed to care for in order to further its own ends.
Victim: Clint Massey, a former resident of the home, pictured outside the public inquiry today
‘If true, that would mean those who had the privilege and responsibility of protecting citizens compounded the pain of those who suffered as a result.
‘If the allegations are no more than rumours and suspicion, they have the effect of heaping further unnecessary misery on the victims of abuse in Kincora.’
The HIA inquiry was set up by the government of Northern Ireland in 2014 to examine harrowing allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at state- and church-run institutions between 1922 and 1995.
It is being chaired by retired High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart, who is sitting alongside senior social workers Geraldine Doherty and David Lane.
In his opening address, Sir Anthony said a number of state bodies including the Royal Ulster Constabulary, MI5, MI6 and the Northern Ireland Office would be examined.
The inquiry has received ‘full and voluntary’ co-operation from all government departments and agencies, he added.
Sir Anthony said: ‘Not only have we been able to inspect the material they have provided at our request, which includes material that we were able to identify from the material already provided by them that might also be relevant, but we are going to examine the relevant material during these public hearings.’
However, a number of individuals including unionist Roy Garland, ex-Army intelligence officer Brian Gemmell, and former Army officer Colin Wallace have refused to give evidence.
Sir Anthony said: ‘While it is for them to decide whether they wish to give evidence in person, we regret that they have adopted this position because this is their opportunity to describe in person and in public their experiences in Kincora.’
Inquiry: The panel is handling claims of historic abuse in institutions across Northern Ireland
Campaigners had hoped to have Kincora included in the nationwide child abuse probe chaired by judge Lowell Goddard, which will have the power to compel witnesses.
However, a legal challenge to overturn the Government’s refusal was rejected as ‘premature’ by a High Court judge last month.
The HIA is now in its 15th module and, by the time it concludes public evidence sessions this summer, more than 450 witnesses will have provided oral testimony.
Sir Anthony is expected to submit his findings to the Northern Ireland Assembly by early next year.
Speaking outside the court, Clint Massey, who spent eight months in Kincora aged 16, said he was looking forward to giving evidence next week.
‘I will have my day in the sun,’ he said.
‘I am hopeful this time. I am hearing good things in the courtroom. They do seem to have the authority to get dossiers from various departments and that gives me hope.’
MI5 ‘hid’ child abuse at boys’ home: Former Army intelligence officer claims security chiefs told him to ‘stop digging’ when he reported possible paedophile ring
- Brian Gemmell said spy chiefs ordered him to ‘stop digging’ at boys’ home
- Former Army Intelligence officer claims MI5 covered up the sexual abuse
- Staff jailed in 1980s for sexual abuse at notorious Kincora children’s home
MI5 covered up the sexual abuse of boys in the notorious Kincora home, a former Army Intelligence officer claimed last night.
Brian Gemmell, a former captain in the Intelligence Corps, said spy chiefs ordered him to ‘stop digging’ when he reported a possible paedophile ring at the Northern Ireland children’s’ home.
He spoke out during a meeting with victim Richard Kerr, who claimed he was one of three youngsters trafficked from the home before being molested by ‘very powerful’ figures in a Westminster paedophile gang.
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Brian Gemmell, a former captain in the Army Intelligence Corps (pictured), said MI5 spy chiefs ordered him to ‘stop digging’ when he reported a possible paedophile ring at the Northern Ireland children’s’ home, Kincora
He claimed he was sexually abused by politicians and other senior men at Dolphin Square apartment complex in Pimlico and Elm Guest House, in Barnes, west London, which are being investigated by Scotland Yard amid ‘credible’ claims a Tory MP murdered a young boy.
Campaigners claim Mr Kerr’s account provides a clear link between VIP paedophile rings in London and Belfast.
MI5 has faced long-standing allegations of covering up child abuse to enable it to gather intelligence on Loyalist politicians during the Troubles. But it has also been accused of not acting to protect leading Establishment figures involved in the crimes.
Mr Gemmell, who served in military intelligence in Belfast, presented a report on allegations of abuse at Kincora to a senior MI5 officer in 1975 but to his astonishment was told to quit his probe.
Speaking to Mr Kerr on Channel 4 News, he said: ‘That’s the thing that hits me – that if I really pushed the thing through, you could have been rescued. I’m sorry.’
His revelations will strengthen calls for the allegations about the Irish children’s home to be covered by the judge-led abuse inquiry announced by Home Secretary Theresa May.
The inquiry will investigate whether public bodies, including governments, charities, the Church and BBC, failed to protect children. It was set up amid claims a child sex gang operated in Westminster in the 1980s.
The investigation into historical abuse, which will be led by New Zealand High Court judge, Justice Lowell Goddard, is likely to be able to study files held by MI5.
Mr Gemmell said: ‘I think Richard’s transporting over to the United Kingdom mainland to be abused, rather than just being abused in Northern Ireland, speaks volumes. It ties the two together.’
Mr Gemmell met with victim Richard Kerr, who claimed he was one of three youngsters trafficked from Kincora (pictured) before being molested by ‘very powerful’ figures in a Westminster paedophile gang
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Kerr, who now lives in Dallas, Texas, said he and two other boys suffered abuse at Kincora in the mid-1970s before being trafficked to London in 1977, where they suffered further abuse.
Boys – many in local authority care – are alleged to have been abused by figures including the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, Cabinet ministers, clergymen, pop stars, spies, judges and members of the royal household.
MI5 has been accused of suppressing allegations of child abuse against the politician, who died in 2010, when they were made during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The Kincora children’s home in east Belfast was run by 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.
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