Socialist Worker

Child abuse inquiry—questions that need answering

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2462

An inquiry into child sex abuse in public institutions opened last week. 

It will “consider the extent to which state and non-state institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation”. 

That covers government departments and parliament, police and prosecuting authorities, schools, care homes, health services, prisons, churches, political parties and the armed services. 

That is not an exhaustive list. 

But importantly it does not include investigating abuse at the Kincora Boys’ Home in Northern Ireland.

The inquiry has been dogged by trouble. Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss lasted just six days as head of the inquiry after her links to the establishment were revealed. 

Her replacement stepped down after just over a month.

Key areas the inquiry could focus on are:

  • Police investigations into sex abuse by Liberal MP Cyril Smith that were closed down by Special Branch in the 1970s.
  • Serious claims of a cover-up of allegations of abuse involving the then home secretary Leon Brittan in the 1980s.
  • Police failure to prosecute senior British diplomat and MI6 spook Sir Peter Hayman in 1978.
  • Whether politicians abused children at the Dolphin House apartment block in London. 

The security services should open their files to the inquiry.

Police block Kincora abuse revelations

A man who was abused in Kincora has named Dr Morris Fraser as one of his abusers. Only last week the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) refused to say if it holds information on Fraser.

The PSNI was asked what information it held on Fraser following convictions in London and the US for child sexual abuse in the early 1970s. It said that it could “neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information”. And it cited, alongside privacy and prejudicial disclosure issues, “Section 23(5) - Information supplied by, or concerning, certain security bodies (national security)”.

Captain Colin Wallace, a former British Army psychological operations officer, tried to expose an alleged paedophile ring involving loyalist paramilitaries and politicians in the 1970s. He wrote an army memo naming alleged abusers in 1973.

Wallace remembered Fraser attending his offices at British Army headquarters in Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, around that year. He said, “He came on a tour of our offices. He brought a foreign individual with him and discussed inter-community conflict. Afterwards, I recall one of my bosses telling me that if Fraser requested any Army assistance or facilities in future, not to agree to it.


"One of my colleagues, an Army major, added Fraser’s name to a document which I had compiled for the press about [the Ulster loyalist group] Tara and Kincora. This gives a strong indication that Army intelligence were well aware of who he was and what he was really getting up to at that time.”

Fraser built close links with the late Peter Righton, another convicted paedophile, who was once a close adviser to Margaret Thatcher on children’s homes

The current inquiry has said the Official Secrets Act would be waived to allow those who had signed it to give evidence.

Wallace said, “Despite the recent assurances by ministers, it would appear that the PSNI is now using national security as a reason for not disclosing information about possible child sex abusers. This indicates that nothing has changed and that the legislation is still being misused to cover up such allegations.”

Brian Gemmell, a former captain in the Intelligence Corps, revealed that in 1975 he submitted reports to MI5’s Northern Ireland head Ian Cameron about child abuse in Northern Ireland. That report has yet to be made public.

For more on the Kincora scandal go to

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