Kincora: Notorious boys' home investigation 'blocked to protect MI5 agent'

At the centre of the case is the role played by McGrath, who became known as the ‘Beast of Kincora’.

Investigations into sexual abuse at a notorious Belfast boys’ home were allegedly blocked in order to use a paedophile housemaster as an MI5 agent, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for two former Kincora residents claimed some police officers obstructed any probe into William McGrath because of his affiliations to a far-right loyalist grouping.

Gary Hoy and Richard Kerr are suing the PSNI, the Home Office and the Department of Health over the ordeals they endured after being sent to the home in east Belfast during the 1970s.

They are seeking damages for alleged assault and battery, misfeasance in public office, and breach of statutory duty.

With liability denied, the Chief Constable and Home Office is attempting to have the actions against them struck out at a preliminary stage.

Lawyers representing the two defendants dispute responsibility for any breach in the duty of care to those targeted at the children’s home which was finally demolished last year.

At the centre of the case is the role played by McGrath, who became known as the ‘Beast of Kincora’.

The senior care worker was jailed in 1981 for abusing boys as part of a paedophile ring operated within the facilities.

McGrath, who died in the early 1990s, also held a leading position in the hardline loyalist movement Tara.

Barrister Aidan McGowan, for Mr Hoy and Mr Kerr, argued that the authorities enabled him to target young victims so that more information about the grouping could be obtained.

The alleged liability went beyond omissions in a duty owed to vulnerable children, it was contended.

“Officers within the police were blocked from investigating and obstructed from pursuing McGrath,” Mr McGowan submitted.

“The defendants did something which prevented other officers from protecting the children at Kincora from that danger.”

The abuse perpetrated by McGrath was allegedly allowed to continue specifically because of his role as an MI5 agent.

“In our case the defendants were running him as an agent, so they were positively using the abuse (he inflicted) to use him to carry out their work,” counsel said.

“That was a factor they were able to use against William McGrath, to get information from him, otherwise there was no hold over him.”

Mr Hoy attended court for the hearing while Mr Kerr, who now lives in Dallas, Texas joined the proceedings remotely.

Fiona Fee, for the Chief Constable and Home Office, insisted there was no basis for establishing any malice.

She also told the court her clients should not have parental responsibility duties conferred on them in the case. 

Reserving judgment in her application to strike out the claims, Master Bell indicated his ruling will not be given before September at the earliest.

He said: “This is an extremely important decision, but it’s also a particularly complex one crossing a significant range of legal principles.”

Outside court Mr Hoy expressed frustration at the length of time taken for his legal action to proceed.

“This has been hanging over me for 10 years,” he said. “It feels like they are just waiting for me to drop off and die.”

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