Why the abuse inquiry needs to talk to Colin Wallace

Whistleblower Colin Wallace is willing to testify to an inquiry into child sex abuse, but it will need access to intelligence documents if it is to succeed.

Following the announcement of an inquiry into historical child sex abuse on Monday, Amnesty International has called for the inclusion of events at Kincora Boy's Home within its remit.

Three senior care staff at the east Belfast children’s home were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys, but it is feared that there were many more victims and abusers during the period between 1960 and 1980. Allegations have persisted that paedophilia at Kincora was linked to British intelligence services, with claims that visitors to the home included members of the military, politicians and civil servants, and that police investigations into abuse at Kincora were blocked by the Ministry of Defence and MI5. (Amnesty, 7 July 2014).

The best account of Kincora and its ramifications is Paul Foot's Who Framed Colin Wallace? which focuses on a British Army officer who tried to draw attention to the situation at Kincora only to find himself sidelined and wrongly convicted of manslaughter.

Colin Wallace has confirmed to Spinwatch his availability to testify to the inquiry, but warned that it would need access to documents held by the intelligence services if it was to succeed:

The Calcutt Inquiry set up by Prime Minister  Margaret Thatcher in 1990 confirmed that I been working for the Intelligence Services during the 1970s and that [my] enforced resignation from the Ministry of Defence had been made on the basis of a false job description designed to conceal [my] covert role in psychological warfare. Sir David Calcutt also found that members of the Security Service (MI5) had manipulated the disciplinary proceedings taken against me after I had complained about the abuses taking place at Kincora.

My solicitor, Jim Nicol, referred Sir David Calcutt's report to the Metropolitan Police (Assistant Commissioner John Yates), on the basis that the report indicated that Security Service officers had attempted to defraud me. The Metropolitan Police referred the matter to the DPP for guidance. The DPP concluded that it would “not be in the public interest for the police to pursue the matter”.

Despite the findings of the Calcutt Inquiry, the Ministry of Defence refused to allow the Defence Select Committee to have access to my secret job description. In a letter dated 11 February 1991, the Ministry of Defence said that my job description contained "sensitive information relating to the security and intelligence matters" and that the provision of such papers, even under the conditions relating to the Committee's access to classified information, "would be inconsistent with the conventions". 

What is the point of having Parliamentary oversight of the Intelligence Services, if the appointed Committee cannot have access to the relevant documents?  This is going to be an issue for the new investigations into child abuse, bearing in mind that MI5 took possession of police files relating to such abuse.

Extracts from Hansard show that Ministers misled Parliament over a number of key issues about Kincora.  Also the Inquiry by Sir George [Terry] totally misled Parliament over the role of MI5 in the matter. Note, in particular, that Major General Peter Leng, former Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, confirmed to the ‘Sunday Times’ that he had raised the issue of Kincora in 1974.

Wallace himself raised the issue in a 1974 memorandum which called for an RUC investigation of Kincora, then already the subject of numerous complaints. The memo attributed the lack of action to the political connections of one of the abusers, William McGrath, who ran a shadowy loyalist organisation (Foot, pp.139-144). Wallace had attempted to leak details of this organisation, Tara, to the British press the previous year only to find that Fleet Street was not prepared to touch the story (Foot, p.137).

Kincora itself was not investigated for another six years. The 1982 Terry Inquiry concluded that Army intelligence had no knowledge of the abuse there, despite refusing to take evidence from Wallace who had been working for Army intelligence and knew this to be untrue (Foot, 313).

In 1987, the journalist Liam Clarke reported that a second army officer, a Field Intelligence NCO covering East Belfast had reported on Tara in 1976, but no action was taken. According to Clarke, McGrath had originally been recruited by MI6 in the 1950s, but by 1976 'his handler was an MI5 officer based in the Old Holywood Road who was later charged with an offence against a young boy' (Liam Clarke, Sunday World, 10 May 1987, cited in Foot, p.355).

In his book The Kincora Scandal, ex-BBC journalist Chris Moore cites two instances of Army officers attempting to report on Kincora in the mid-1970s. In the spring of 1975, intelligence officer 'James' was told about abuse at Kincora by McGrath's fomer associate, Roy Garland. He reported this to a political advisor working with Army intelligence at Lisburn, and got an unexpectedly negative response.

He told me that the kind of information I had submitted was not proper intelligence, that we had nothing, that we as intelligence officers did not dabble in homosexual affairs, that these moral matters were nothing to do with us. He vilified my report, he told me no more meetings with Garland, to drop the investigation into Tara (Moore, p.141).

The political advisor at Lisburn may have been the DCI's Representative, a role taken over by MI5 during this period. He was named under parliamentary privilege by Ken Livingstone as Ian Cameron. Tam Dalyell also told the House that MI5 had refused to allow the Terry Inquiry to question Cameron.

'James' also claimed to have been told by MI5 officers in London that they had a compromising homosexual film of the loyalist John McKeague that could be used to recruit him as an agent (Moore, p.143).

Yet another army intelligence officer, 'Dennis' (perhaps the same officer mentioned by Liam Clarke), claimed to have been told to drop an inquiry into Tara during a tour beginning in late 1975. Dennis also recalled being asked to escort an English civilian round Belfast, and driving him to a building which he later recognised as Kincora Boys Home (Moore, p.144-145).

In the 1980s, Barrie Penrose of the Sunday Times recorded Sir Peter Leng, the Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, admitting that the Army was aware of the abuse at Kincora. In Big Boys' Rules, BBC journalist Mark Urban commented:

The revelation is a serious one because it shows that successive ministers have misled Parliament about just how much the authorities knew about abuse at this home. The suggestion is that the Security Service (MI5) blocked moves to stop the abuse because it provided them with valuable blackmail material to be used against a member of a loyalist terrorist group who worked there and was one of the alleged abusers (Urban, pp.56-57).

The persistent allegations around Kincora and Tara have significant parallels with some of the claims made about the Paedophile Information Exchange in recent weeks. Colin Wallace's evidence in particular may also bear directly on events in Britain for reasons that go beyond Kincora.

As part of his intelligence work, Wallace was a conduit for Operation Clockwork Orange, a disinformation campaign ostensibly aimed at the IRA, but which became over time a vehicle for right-wing propaganda concerning British politics itself. 

On one occasion shortly before the 1974 general election, Wallace met an MI5 officer in London and made the following note:

Given the foregoing, it is clear that the campaign for the next General Election will be heavily dominated by the personality factor, and every effort should be made to exploit character weaknesses in 'target' subjects and, in particular:

(A) Financial misbehaviour

(B) Sexual misbehaviour

(C) Political misbehaviour

Alongside this noted were listed the names of a number of prominent Conservative, Labour and Liberal politicians (Foot, p.46). Many of them, as Paul Foot notes, were embroiled in controversies or known from other sources to have been targeted by the intelligence agencies. However, one name whose presence Foot does not attempt to explain is that of the Liberal MP Cyril Smith.

Former police officers have claimed that a dossier about Smith's paedophile activities was passed to MI5 in 1974. The Clockwork Orange material must raise the possibility that such material could have been suppressed not by paedophile networks, but by intelligence officers looking for dirt to exploit.

In Northern Ireland, Colin Wallace's evidence has provided vital leads for investigative writing such as Ciarán MacAirt's recent study of the McGurk's Bar bombing. He has been described as one of the most important whistleblowers ever to come out of the British state. If we are to get to the bottom of that state's past failings in regard to child abuse, his evidence should finally be heard.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *