Former Kincora resident to challenge abuse inquiry findings

Richard Kerr claims he was abused at Kincora
Richard Kerr claims he was abused at Kincora

A former resident of a notorious Belfast boys’ home is set to mount a legal challenge against the findings of an inquiry that rejected claims that senior establishment figures used it to abuse children.

Richard Kerr, who alleges he was abused by “very powerful people” with links to the Kincora home, does not accept the conclusions of the four-year Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry.

The inquiry dismissed long-standing claims that senior politicians, civil servants and businessmen were complicit in a paedophile ring that operated at the home in the 1970s and for which three staff members were jailed.

The report also rejected associated allegations that the UK security services knew what was going on and, instead of intervening, used the information to blackmail the establishment figures involved.

Publishing the HIA findings in January, inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart said of Kincora: “It was not a homosexual brothel, nor was it used by any of the security agencies as a honey pot to entrap, blackmail or otherwise exploit homosexuals.”

The retired judge added: “It is now time to finally lay these unfounded myths to rest.”

Mr Kerr, who claims he was abused inside Kincora and at other locations in Belfast and London, was due to give evidence to the inquiry last year but withdrew his co-operation at a late stage after claiming key state documents related to the home were not disclosed to his legal team.

Sir Anthony was critical of some of those who declined to give evidence, naming Mr Kerr specifically.

He said there had been an “unwillingness of some individuals who have been vocal in the past about their purported knowledge of sexual abuse relating to Kincora, but when the opportunity was offered to them to assist this Inquiry refused to do so”.

Mr Kerr’s solicitor Claire McKeegan said the HIA’s inability to compel state files and a number of potentially key witnesses to give evidence meant it had been unable to properly investigate the claims around Kincora.

Confirming legal action was planned, Ms McKeegan said: “Mr Kerr has been disappointed by the inquiry’s approach, which appears to have subjected the accounts and records of the state and institutions to inadequate scrutiny in relation to the allegations of collusion at Kincora.

“Instead the inquiry’s focus on examining of historical documents relating to him in order to identify what the inquiry believes to have been inconsistencies has been conducted in a manner which failed to adequately consider the credibility or reliability of these records and, in any event, appears to have been inherently unfair to Mr Kerr, particularly in circumstances where they did not benefit from hearing any evidence from him.

“This is particularly disappointing given the serious allegations of collusion that surround the abuse perpetrated at Kincora, and particularly so given that the persistence of these rumours has ensured there is particular need for a comprehensive human rights compliant investigation in order to finally determine the truth of these matters.

“In any event the criticisms of Richard Kerr are entirely unjust, unwarranted and inappropriate.”