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13 April 2015

Ignore the hysteria and get justice for victims of Kincora

Abuse survivor Richard Kerr

Uncovering child abuse is as difficult as it is important. Damaged children need to be heard and the perpetrators dealt with, yet the police and the justice system have to be wary of witch-hunts.

Kincora-related allegations are flying all over the place. Here are a sample.

That children were abused is the firm ground which few challenge. In the 1980s, along with two of his staff, Kincora's head, William McGrath, an extreme loyalist, was jailed for sexual assault.

But it's been claimed for years that the three were members of a paedophile ring protected by MI5 because it wanted information about other loyalist perpetrators.

Others claim the ring went wider and included some respectable but secretly homosexual unionist MPs who visited Kincora to assault children.

Now Richard Kerr and Clint Massey have told us that they were intimidated into staying silent by members of the RUC. And Brian Gemmell, a former captain in the Army Intelligence Corps, says he was told by MI5 to "stop digging" for evidence on Kincora.

Mr Kerr also says he was one of three Kincora children who were trafficked to London to be molested and raped in the Elm Guest House in Barnes and a flat in Pimlico's Dolphin Square where there is a further allegation that a young boy was murdered by a Tory MP.

In what is described as an "elite" VIP paedophile ring, those accused include the late Sir Cyril Smith MP, Cabinet ministers, spooks, judges, civil servants, royalty and all manner of celebrities including Jimmy Savile.

As Home Secretary, Leon Brittan failed to act on explosive information provided by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens; relevant files have gone missing from the Home Office.

A Church of England bishop has passed to the Home Secretary the names of Leo Abse and Willie Whitelaw, who are accused of child abuse, along with Enoch Powell who is also alleged to have been involved in satanic practices.

Sir Anthony Hart's historical institutional abuse inquiry is useless because of its limited powers. Naomi Long is among those who believe Theresa May's refusal to have Kincora included in the Westminster paedophile inquiry chaired by Judge Lowell Goddard is indefensible and that the judge's remit must be extended to include Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The Kincora scandal will run and run. Here, for what it's worth, is what I know and what I think.

Terrible things happened at Kincora.

It's possible that some members of MI5 were more concerned about protecting informants than protecting children. It's also possible that members of the RUC colluded by discouraging children from telling their stories.

But there's no evidence that the unionist MPs being gossiped about were paedophiles. Mostly they seemed to take great care to conduct their sex lives discreetly in London rather than running risks on their own doorsteps.

The Elm Guest House was some kind of brothel, but the list of VIPs in the visitors' book is obviously fraudulent. No one intent on law-breaking would sign their real names. For instance, the name followed by "Sinn Fein" would have been written by a devout anti-republican.

Dickens was a publicity-seeker; his information was mostly Press clippings. It's perfectly clear from correspondence that Leon Brittan acted properly and passed the material to the appropriate people.

There is nothing sinister about the disappearance of the files. Every year vast quantities of files thought to be unimportant were culled in every department by junior officials.

There's no evidence against most of the names being trailed as VIP abusers, including Abse, Powell and Whitelaw. Recent hysterical scares about satanic abuse were unfounded and did dreadful harm.

Judge Goddard's inquiry has been given such a ludicrously wide remit that it could take years and years. To add to it - as Labour have promised - would be to defer justice.

Sir Anthony Hart's inquiry has a manageable scope. If he lacks enough powers to do a proper job then, post-election, Northern Ireland MPs should lean on the new Home Secretary and get him what he needs.

If there's to be any chance of bringing the Kincora perpetrators to justice, we'd better be quick about it or they'll be all dead. In the meantime, let's not succumb to hysteria and conspiracy theories.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards