Given the many lurid conspiracy theories that have been constructed over the years around the abuse at the Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast, it’s worth highlighting the findings of the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995 on that issue in particular.
There is no evidence to support allegations that security agencies were complicit in the abuse of children at the former Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast, the North’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has found.
Inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart, a former high court judge, debunked what he described as decades of “ill-informed comment, half-truths and deliberate misrepresentations masquerading as established facts”.
He said the inquiry was satisfied there is no evidence to support any allegations that prominent individuals were involved in sexual abuse of Kincora residents.
It emerged – when the 2,300-page, 10-volume report into abuse at 22 homes in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995 was published on Friday – the panel was also satisfied Kincora was not a homosexual brothel and not used by any security agencies as a “honeypot” to entrap, blackmail or otherwise exploit men. [added emphasis]
Hundreds of British government files and secret intelligence documents were examined by the inquiry panel.
As a result of our examination of all of the material we gathered we believe that we have stripped away the overgrowth of decades of ill-informed comment, half truths and deliberate misrepresentations which have all too often masqueraded as established facts. These had been constantly repeated without critical analysis by, or real knowledge on the part of, those who have offered public comments about the nature and extent of the sexual abuse of residents in Kincora, and what state agencies did or did not know about that abuse during the 1970s and afterwards. We have established that the sources of many of the allegations were untruthful, inaccurate or mistaken in what they said had happened.
We have devoted two of the volumes of the report solely to Kincora. What we are going to say now about our conclusions has to be read in conjunction with our detailed examination of the relevant material to which we refer, and which we intend to place on our website later today. Some may find our conclusions unpalatable because their preconceptions have not been confirmed, or because we have not accepted the allegations they have repeated over the years. [added emphasis]
395 Based on our extensive examination of a very large number of files held by RUC Special Branch, by MI5, by SIS and by the Ministry of Defence, we are satisfied that McGrath was never an agent of the State, although he may have enjoyed creating an air of mystery about his activities, part of which may well have involved him hinting at, or implying in an oblique fashion, that he was an agent of the State.
396 Not only have we found no evidence to indicate that McGrath was an agent of any of the four agencies, we have found many documents and references which very strongly indicate that he was not an agent. [added emphasis]
397 William McGrath was a sexual pervert who had political and religious views of an extreme and bizarre type who managed to trick gullible young men who were interested in political matters into regarding him as an important political figure. William McGrath was never more than a minor player on the wider political stage who managed to create a spurious air of self-importance through Tara at a time of great political instability, communal violence and terrorist activity. Tara was never more than an organisation of occasional interest to the security agencies. [added emphasis]
Volume 9 − Chapter 29 − Module 15 − Conclusions about Kincora
Were prominent individuals involved in the sexual abuse of residents of Kincora
398 There have been frequent allegations that various individuals, including Sir Maurice Oldfield, a former head of the Secret Intelligent Service who was later the Security Coordinator in Northern Ireland, and a number of named and unnamed Northern Ireland Office Civil Servants, and unnamed business men and other prominent figures, resorted to Kincora for sexual purposes. We are satisfied there is no credible evidence to support any of these allegations. Kincora was a small hostel and for most of its existence had only nine or fewer residents at any one time. The great majority of all of those residents who were interviewed by the Sussex Police were very surprised at such allegations and did not believe them to be of any substance. [added emphasis]
399 There were a small number of former residents of Kincora who returned to Kincora as visitors and who engaged in consensual homosexual activity with Mains, or on a small number of occasions, with some of the residents. A number of residents engaged in consensual homosexual activity with each other, or did so with others away from Kincora in circumstances which were completely unconnected with Kincora. We are satisfied that Kincora was not a homosexual brothel, nor used by any of the security agencies as a “honey pot” to entrap, blackmail or otherwise exploit homosexuals. [added emphasis]
Allegations of a cover up
400 Both the Belfast Town Clerk and the Town Solicitor died before the Hughes Inquiry investigated the sexual abuse at Kincora. The reasons why the Town Clerk and the Town Solicitor decided not to accept the recommendation made by Mr Mason in 1971 that the complaints against Mains should be reported to the RUC were never recorded. There are a number of possible reasons why they took this step. One was that they did not agree that the information contained in Mr Mason’s report was sufficient to justify the matter being reported to the police. If that was their reason then that was a wrong decision. Another reason may have been to protect the Belfast Welfare Authority from the embarrassment that would flow from a police investigation into a boys’ hostel under its control. Another explanation may have been that either or both were determined to protect Mains from exposure as a homosexual. That would only be a possible consideration were there evidence to show that either the Town Clerk or the Town Solicitor knew that Mains was a practising homosexual. In the absence of any evidence, each of these possible reasons is no more than speculation.
401 Apart from that unexplained decision, we are satisfied that there were no attempts by the Belfast Welfare Authority or the EHSSB to engage in a “cover-up”, that is concealing from relevant individuals or authorities their knowledge of, or information about, wrongdoing by Mains, Semple or McGrath.
Allegations by Colin Wallace and others
402 We are satisfied that Mr Wallace was moved from his post in the Army Information Service at HQNI, and subsequently dismissed, solely because there was very strong circumstantial evidence that he had been engaged in, and was still engaged in, the unauthorised disclosure of classified documents to journalists. We are satisfied that whatever he claims to have known about Kincora had nothing whatever to do with his posting to Preston or his subsequent dismissal. [added emphasis]
403 We are satisfied that Mr Wallace was treated unjustly in two respects connected with the subsequent appeal he brought against his dismissal to the Civil Service Appeal Board. First of all the MoD did not reveal to the CSAB the full job description which had been prepared showing the true nature of his work. Secondly, the MoD briefed the Chairman, and then the Deputy Chairman, of the CSAB with information that was not made known to Mr Wallace, to his representative, or to the other members of the Board who sat on his appeal. That they did so, and that the gentleman concerned received the information, was thoroughly reprehensible and should never have happened.
404 These injustices were accepted by David Calcutt QC in his report to the MoD in which he recommended that Mr Wallace be paid £30,000 compensation. We understand that Mr Wallace eventually accepted this amount.
405 We do not regard Mr Wallace as truthful in his accounts of what he knew about sexual abuse in Kincora, or of what he did with that knowledge, between 1972 and 1974. In particular, for the reasons we have given, we do not accept that the critical document of 8 November 1974 was created at that date. [added emphasis]
406 During the Caskey Phase Three investigations MI5 consistently obstructed a proper line of enquiry by their refusal to allow the RUC to interview a retired MI5 officer, and by their refusal to authorise that retired officer to provide a written statement to the RUC answering 30 questions the RUC wished to ask him. We consider these questions were proper and relevant questions to the enquiry being conducted by D/Supt Caskey at that time.
Sir George Terry’s report
407 While the Sussex Police carried out a thorough re-examination of the way the RUC carried out the initial Caskey Phase One investigation into the offences committed by Mains, Semple and McGrath, Sir George Terry was not justified in stating that military sources had been “very frank with me and perfectly open”.
The NIO and the limited Terms of Reference of the Hughes Inquiry
408 The reliance by the NIO on the decision by the DPP that there should be no prosecution, and on Sir George Terry’s Report, as adequate reasons for not setting up an Inquiry with Terms of Reference that would have enabled an investigation of the issues relating to the security agencies was not justified at the time. The decision failed to properly take account of the public disquiet at the time about issues which were deliberately excluded from the Terms of Reference of the Hughes Inquiry.
The steps taken by the Ministry of Defence in 1989 and 1990 to correct incorrect statements
409 The recognition by the MoD in 1989 that incorrect answers may have been given by Ministers to the House of Commons and to others led the MoD to carry out a wide-ranging and detailed investigation to establish the correct position. When the correct position was known, the Ministry took the necessary action to place the correct facts before the House of Commons and to correct the errors that had occurred in the past. It appointed Mr Calcutt QC to consider the injustices suffered by Mr Wallace to which we have already referred. We are satisfied that once the MoD appreciated that incorrect information had been given, and that Mr Wallace had not been treated properly before the CSAB, it acted promptly and properly to establish the correct position, and to ensure that the injustices Mr Wallace suffered in the appeal process were remedied. The injustices were remedied by the payment of £30,000 to him as compensation.
Why the sexual abuse by Mains, Semple and McGrath was not stopped sooner
410 Those residents of Kincora who were sexually abused by Mains, Semple and McGrath were let down by those three individuals who abused their positions of authority and committed numerous acts of sexual abuse of the gravest kind against teenage children in their care while they were living in this hostel. When their conduct was exposed, they were prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to appropriate periods of imprisonment.
411 In our investigations into Kincora the Inquiry examined hundreds of files held by Government and by the Police, MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Ministry of Defence and other departments and agencies. We have also examined the police files relating to the earlier investigations that were carried out by the RUC and then by the Sussex Constabulary into what did or did not happen at Kincora. As we explained, those investigations by the RUC and the Sussex Police were extremely thorough and comprehensive. D/Supt Caskey and his officers went to great lengths to identify every possible person who may have been in possession of information that could lead to the identification and possible prosecution of anyone else who had committed a criminal offence of whatever kind relating to Kincora, whether that was sexual abuse or the suppression of evidence.
412 Those investigations did not find, and our Inquiry has not found, any credible evidence to show that there is any basis for the allegations that have been made over the years about the involvement of others in sexual abuse of residents in Kincora, or anything to show that the security agencies were complicit in any form of exploitation of sexual abuse in Kincora for any purpose.
413 The reality of the situation was that it was because of the multitude of failings by officials of the Belfast Welfare Authority, of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board, and by the RUC, that the sexual abuse of residents at Kincora was not stopped earlier, and that those responsible for perpetrating these grave crimes were not brought to justice sooner. [added emphasis]