Exaro News Archive

Police re-open files on child sex abuse at Kincora boys’ home

Former Kincora residents asked by Police Service of Northern Ireland for interviews

By Fiona O’Cleirigh | 23 March 2013

Police re-open files on child sex abuse at Kincora boys’ homePolice have re-opened their investigation into historical allegations of sexual abuse of children at Kincora boys’ home in East Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Sources revealed to Exaro that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been contacting former residents of the boys’ home and asking to interview them.

The PSNI confirmed the development to Exaro. It becomes one of at least 30 “major” police operations that are investigating child sexual exploitation by groups or gangs in the UK.

Only last Saturday, two men sexually abused as boys in care in Richmond made an emotional call through Exaro for resources to provide support for witnesses during such investigations, as recommended by a parliamentary committee.

The PSNI has re-opened the Kincora files as a result of information received by a public inquiry launched last May into “historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland”.

Sir Anthony Hart, a retired judge, is chairing the inquiry into abuse in residential institutions in the province between 1922 and 1995. It is due to report in 2016.

A PSNI spokeswoman told Exaro: “There is currently a public inquiry ongoing in relation to historical abuse. Individuals are being encouraged to contact Judge Hart, who is heading the inquiry. And, where appropriate, his inquiry team will pass this information to the PSNI.

“PSNI has received a number of referrals, which will be reviewed in due course.”

Kincora is one of several notorious children’s homes throughout the UK at the centre of historical allegations of child sex abuse that came to light in the 1980’s.

Opened in 1958 and run by health authorities in Northern Ireland, Kincora was provided mainly for “boys of working age” – between 15 and 18 years old. It was closed in 1980, and three senior members of staff were suspended. They were convicted of a range of sexual offences against boys in their care between 1960 and 1980.

Joseph Mains, the warden at Kincora, was jailed for six years.

William McGrath, a house master at the boys’ home as well as a loyalist campaigner, was jailed for four years. He has since died.

And Raymond Semple, assistant warden, received a five-year sentence.

There was a series of unsubstantiated claims linking paedophilia at the home to prominent figures in the British establishment, and that McGrath was an agent for the Security Service, better known as MI5, and was the leader of a paramilitary-style group of Protestants, Tara.

The re-opened Kincora case underlines calls by people who suffered sexual abuse as children for ministers to find the resources for counselling and other support services to run alongside police investigations into historical cases.

The Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit re-opened an investigation – ‘Operation Fernbridge’ – into allegations that boys in care in Richmond, south-west London were sexually abused between 1977 and 1983 initially at Grafton Close children’s home and then at Elm Guest House nearby in Barnes.

Exaro triggered this investigation, under which police are also investigating whether MPs and other VIPs sexually abused boys at the guest house.

In addition, the Met’s paedophile unit is running ‘Operation Fairbank’, which is “scoping” other allegations of child sex abuse against senior political figures. That investigation was prompted by an intervention in Parliament by the MP, Tom Watson.

The exposure of Jimmy Savile, the late BBC presenter, as a paedophile has heightened police interest in allegations of child sex abuse. That case prompted ‘Operation Yewtree’, which is investigating not only Savile, but others from the celebrity world.

Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions, a fortnight ago announced a review of the way in which police and prosecutors should treat allegations of such abuse. He said: “We cannot afford another Savile moment in five or 10 years’ time. Whatever approach is agreed, it has to be fully informed, coherent, consistently applied across the country and able to withstand the test of time.”

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