Discovery of files on named politicians raises the stakes on the Kincora abuse scandal

At last . Papers naming prominent politicians of the 1970s and 80s as suspects which couldn’t be found at first have at last turned up in boxes marked “Miscellaneous” in the Cabinet Office in Whitehall. The local interest couldn’t be higher, after being stimulated by media persistence.

The papers also reveal that the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland was at the heart of further correspondence involving the security services.

Allegations of abuse and trafficking of children to England have centred on the home in Belfast.

The papers reveal former intelligence officer Colin Wallace raised concerns about abuse at Kincora – the papers had been stored by the Cabinet Office.

The contents of the papers have still not been revealed but have been shared with the police and will be passed to the Child Abuse Inquiry led by Justice Lowell Goddard.

The question now becomes even more insistent: will the single trial of evidence leading from Kincora to MI5 and to Conservative politicians be more difficult to follow if it continues to be split between the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry under the retired High Court judge Tony Hart and the delayed Child Abuse Inquiry led by the New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard?

Despite protests from Peter Robinson and others, Theresa May the Home Secretary turned down requests to include the Kincora scandal in the UK inquiry despite the obvious strong links with UK officialdom, while promising full cooperation with the NI inquiry which also has statutory powers.

I make no easy assumption that Godard would do a more effective job that Hart.  MI5 may be a common factor between the two inquiries, but the dead politicians named as possible abuse suspects  including the former Homes Secretary Leon Brittan and NI junior minister  Bill van Straubenzee may have no connection with any alleged Kincora ring.  It can be argued that the smaller scale of NI inquiry allows it to give Kincora the attention it deserves so long as it doesn’t restrict its inquiries to one side of the Irish Sea and declines to be blindsided by sophisticated Whitehall coverup to bamboozle the provincials. There’s also a case for separating out abuse allegations that centre on members of the establishment and the official world from the great majority of abuse allegations that don’t involve them directly.

But expect no change in the process now after all the tortuous procedure to set up the UK inquiry. It looks if Hart will have Kincora and the follow through to himself. If he is restricted from pursuing it through the corridors of Westminster and Whitehall in any way, the howls of protest will carry across both sides of the water.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

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