Amnesty calls for lifting of Official Secrets Act to help Kincora abuse inquiry

Former British soldier claimes he was told to stop investigating claims

The Official Secrets Act should be suspended to allow former intelligence officers to give evidence about alleged cover-ups during the child abuse inquiry, Amnesty International has said.

A former British soldier involved in military intelligence has claimed he was told to stop investigating sexual abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Brian Gemmell told the BBC he was ordered to halt his inquiry into the home by a senior MI5 officer in 1975 after presenting a report on the allegations.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland director, said: “The focus must be the protection of children, rather than officials and their dirty secrets.”

Calls to include Kincora

British home secretary

Theresa May

has faced calls from politicians and lobbyists in Northern Ireland to include Kincora in the child abuse inquiry established following revelations about serial sex offenders such as

Jimmy Savile

. The inquiry was set up to examine how public bodies handled their duty of care to protect children from paedophiles.

Mr Corrigan said: “The home secretary must announce the inclusion of Kincora in the inquiry and an exemption so that army officers and others bound by the Official Secrets Act can finally speak freely.”

In 1981, three senior care staff at the east Belfast Kincora home were jailed for abusing 11 boys and it has been claimed that people of the “highest profile” were connected.

Mr Gemmell said he found out about the abuse through two sources, including an agent called Royal Flush, while he was gathering information about loyalists.

“I was summoned to go and see [the MI5 officer]. I went up thinking he was going to be pleased with me,” he said. “He bawled me out. He was rude and offensive and hostile.

“He told me not just to stop any investigation into Kincora, but to drop Royal Flush.”

Lack of cash

It comes during a public inquiry in Northern Ireland into institutional child abuse from 1922 to 1995, which faced possible suspension last month due to a lack of money.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, leading the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, has said it "does not have sufficient powers" to investigate issues relating to the British army or MI5. He also said "there may be benefits to the UK-wide inquiry examining the relevant allegations into Kincora Boys' Home".

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "I want to see a full investigation into the terrible abuses which occurred in Kincora . . . it is clear that the proper route to fully investigate the abuse at Kincora Boys' Home is to have it included in our United Kingdom's Child Abuse Inquiry." – (PA)