Why London must not be allowed to suppress the awful truth about Kincora
April 5, 2016
|Former boys’ home Kincora|
|Home Secretary Theresa May|
|Lord Patrick Mayhew|
As the alleged VIP paedophile ring story at Westminster crumbles, there is still one scandal involving powerful people, blackmail and the abuse of children that continues to churn out disturbing, but credible, material from the past: Kincora.
The so-called former 'boys' home' - an inappropriate, cruel misnomer if ever there was one - in east Belfast has this enduring ability to cast up fresh demons which haunt the lives of the victims that were sent there and also raise serious questions for the British state in Northern Ireland.
Last week's revelations about the paedophile doctor, Morris Fraser, contained this killer line: that a Freedom of Information request about the child psychiatrist's work in Belfast during the early years of the Troubles was blocked on the grounds of "national security".
Which raised the possibility that Fraser, who - incredibly - was allowed to keep practising in his field of child psychiatry right up until the mid-1990s, despite a number of convictions for sexually abusing boys, was a "protected species" by the security services.
In addition, one of the Kincora survivors, Richard Kerr, remembers that his torment began not at the home itself, but in Fraser's clinic in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, when the paedophile took pictures with a Polaroid camera of Kerr with his trousers down.
It was on Fraser's later recommendation that Richard Kerr was sent to Kincora - and into the lair of a ring of child abusers working there.
Fraser's activities, his link to Kincora and his ability to continue to work - even though the RUC and others knew he had a conviction for child abuse as far back as 1971 in London - suggests the paedophile rings connected to the home did not just involve a few old perverts who happened to be members of the Orange Order.
It raises the possibility that the web of abusers reached deeper into the middle-class professions, such as medicine, and was seen by the security services at the highest level as being of use in terms of spying, so-called "black ops" and blackmail in relation to extreme unionism at the time.
Academic Niall Meehan's disclosure about the Freedom of Information request - and the reason for it being turned down - also remind us of another similar decision taken at Cabinet level, now in the 21st century.
It is worth remembering that Home Secretary Theresa May was prepared to allow for full and frank disclosure of all police, security service and other classified files that related to claims of a VIP paedophile ring allegedly operating in London around Dolphin House as well as Westminster in the 1970s and 1980s.
However, the Home Secretary has refused to include Kincora in that open investigative remit and, indeed, has even moved to block another inquiry based here in Northern Ireland gaining total, open access to all the sensitive case files and information relating to the east Belfast abuse centre network.
At the time of writing, the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, based at Banbridge courthouse, is hearing evidence against allegations of abuse of children at Lissue Hospital in Lisburn, which will run for at least a week.
The HIAI inquiry has already heard heartbreaking and shocking evidence, including eyewitness accounts about the sexual and physical abuse of children at homes, orphanages and other institutions across Northern Ireland since the state's inception.
The long-running tribunal will eventually get to Kincora and what could be one of the most sensational set-piece public hearings since the Bloody Sunday inquiry.
Victims and eyewitnesses will be called to retell stories of rape and abuse by powerful and seemingly highly protected men; to amplify claims that the abusers were being spied on (and blackmailed to spy on others) and to charge that, all the time, the authorities knew, but did nothing to save boys from this gang of predatory child rapists.
In order for the full truth to come out about this festering and toxic scandal from the Troubles, the Home Secretary should be forced to reverse the decision not to hand over all of the files related to Kincora to Sir Anthony Hart, the retired judge heading up the HIAI inquiry, and his team.
Because, even if there are some grounds for not publishing these files in the full public glare of Banbridge courthouse, then surely Sir Anthony, Geraldine Doherty and David Lane could at least be trusted to protect "national security" while at the same time being able to read these documents in full and eventually factor the material contained within them into their final report.
Pressure on Theresa May and the Home Office should begin at Stormont and the next power-sharing administration following the Assembly elections on May 5.
Every political party seeking power in the new devolved government - and even those who will enter Opposition - should promise the electorate they will press London on this issue.
They should commit themselves to demanding a change in policy in London allowing for total transparency in connection to Kincora.
The demand that the Government in London hand over all the files to the Banbridge-based tribunal should be in every party's manifesto in the run-up to the election next month.
Given this recent development regarding Fraser and his ability to have access to children in Northern Ireland and the referrals to Kincora in the 1970s, it is surely correct that the HIAI inquiry be allowed to quiz those health professionals, members of the General Medical Council, any RUC senior staff who knew about the 1971 conviction and, of course, former Secretary of State Lord Patrick Mayhew, whom as journalist Lyra McKee revealed in this newspaper on Monday, was a panel member at one session of a GMC disciplinary committee in the mid 1970s into Dr Fraser's activities.
All these prominent people should also be summoned to Banbridge courthouse when the HIAI tribunal finally gets around to investigating Kincora to be questioned about the quality of the information in relation to Fraser in that period; to be asked if they think they were hoodwinked for reasons of state.
There are other cases, too, of "protected species" with links to extreme loyalism (their identities and activities revealed to this author by the late David Ervine in the early 1990s before he was a household name) that have connections to Kincora who continued to be used as assets by the security services right into the 1990s and who should now come under the spotlight of this inquiry.