Victim of abuse at Kincora home withdraws from inquiry

Richard Kerr feels he has not been given all material that is being relied upon in hearings

The  former Kincora Boys’ Home  in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A man who was physically and sexually abused at the home  has withdrawn as a participant in the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Banbridge as he does not have access to a range of documents. Photograph:  Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

The former Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A man who was physically and sexually abused at the home has withdrawn as a participant in the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Banbridge as he does not have access to a range of documents. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

 

A man who was physically and sexually abused at Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast has withdrawn as a participant in the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Banbridge as he does not have access to a range of documents.

Richard Kerr said he had agreed to be involved in the inquiry despite having reservations about taking part on the grounds that the inquiry did not have powers to compel witnesses and because he felt it did not have sufficient powers to investigate allegations of British state collusion.

His decision to participate was on the basis that his legal representatives would be given a proper opportunity to represent him and his interests at the inquiry but as he feels this has not happened he has no confidence in proceedings and will no longer take part.

Mr Kerr, who is based in the US, was invited to be a core participant at the inquiry after being advised by the chairman Sir Anthony Hart that his participation in the investigations would be of assistance.

73-year period

The inquiry has a remit to investigate physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and childhood neglect which occurred in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period up to 1995.

A number of state bodies including the RUC, MI5 and MI6 are being investigated by the inquiry.

Mr Kerr’s statement, issued through KRW solicitors, said “credible allegations that the British security forces and security services knew of and colluded in that abuse...deserve fearless and public investigation through an independent inquiry with full powers.

“Mr Kerr is not able to give instructions to his legal representatives because he does not access to the range material being relied upon by the Inquiry and therefore his legal representatives are unable to provide him with the necessary advice,” it continues.

Mr Kerr is unhappy that he was only provided with a bundle of 740 documents last week rather than the 16,000 pages he had expected.

“He has not been provided with any documents obtained from or submitted by the British security forces and security services. It is not clear why the Inquiry wish to conceal these documents from Mr Kerr or his legal representatives,” the statement says.

“In the context of an Inquiry that is investigating allegations that the British security forces and security services knew that abuse was and would be perpetrated on the children in Kincora and covered this up this is inherently unreasonable.”

The statement added that if the inquiry changes its approach Mr Kerr will reconsider his position.

Not correct

The Historical Abuse Inquiry said it regretted Mr Kerr’s decision but said it was not correct to suggest that it wished to conceal documents from him or his representatives.

“His legal representatives have accepted to the Inquiry that what the agencies of the State knew about the abuse perpetrated at Kincora and the individuals perpetrating that abuse, or when they knew about it, are matters that are not within Mr Kerr’s knowledge. The Inquiry has no reason to believe that he can speak of his own knowledge on the issues of State participation,” it said in a statement.

“The Inquiry does not intend to engage in public debate with Mr Kerr on the other matters referred to in his statement, save to say that it does not accept its procedures are unfair. These procedures have been repeatedly upheld as fair by the courts, including the United Kingdom Supreme Court.”