The man who blew the lid on abuse at a notorious boys’ home said a flawed Sussex Police report led to others being let off the hook.

Former Army intelligence officer Colin Wallace tipped-off reporters about abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast, seven years before three members of staff were prosecuted in 1980.

Sussex Police officers were brought in two years later to investigate how the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) conducted its inquiries. A report, from the then chief constable of Sussex Police Sir George Terry, followed in 1983.

The report, Mr Wallace argues, was flawed and led to others not being investigated. He also claims an inquiry, which is currently being held into the abuse, has been weakened as a result of the report more than 30 years before.

Speaking to The Argus, he said the Government needed to “face up” to omissions in the report.

He and others, including Amnesty International, have said the ongoing Northern Irish inquiry into the home does not have enough powers. They are calling for it to be included in the widespread sex abuse inquiry set up by the Home Secretary.

Mr Wallace, 72, who has lived in Arundel for more than 40 years, worked for the Army in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s and 1970s. He said Sir George’s conclusions, including that the military did not know about abuse allegations, meant subsequent enquiries were less searching.

He said: “I think the Government has to face up to the Terry enquiry because from that, from the absence of information, all subsequent enquiries were based on it. That is why the Sussex Police one is really important.

“The summary report that went to parliament says the army knew nothing. Impossible. He says there is no vice ring. Impossible.

“It does not disclose the fact that Terry was not allowed to interview the MI5 officer who blocked the investigation. Now come on. Those three elements of information are of such importance that their failure to be considered in the report must raise serious question marks.”

Three senior care staff at Kincora, William McGrath, Raymond Mains and Joseph Semple, were sentenced in 1980 for abusing boys. It was seven years after Mr Wallace first tried to draw attention to alleged abuse. Allegations persisted that intelligence agencies knew about abuse of Kincora boys but let it happen, possibly for political blackmail purposes during the Troubles.

The 1982 Sussex Police report concluded there was no “fresh or real evidence” to substantiate allegations of a paedophile ring and dismissed reports that some military circles were aware of the abuse.

One of the officers who helped with the report, Detective Superintendent George Harrison, had overseen the case a year earlier in which Mr Wallace was convicted of the manslaughter of Brighton antiques dealer Jonathan Lewis. He was cleared on appeal.

Former Kincora resident Richard Kerr recently came forward to say he was taken from the home to the mainland to be abused by politically powerful men. There have also been suggestions boys were taken to Brighton.

Mr Wallace said that is one of the reasons campaigners want the home to be part of Theresa May’s inquiry.


THE wellbeing of children in residential care was not high on Colin Wallace’s list of priorities when he agreed to meet an agitated welfare worker in a cafe near the Arts Theatre in east Belfast.
The year was 1972 and the 29-year-old Army information officer had just returned from the tribunal into the Blood Sunday killings, and was focused on countering the threat from militant loyalists.
Yet what he was to hear at that cafe would evolve into an ongoing saga that would consume him for the next 40 years and counting, the first thread pulled on a toxic national scandal that he claims is yet to fully unravel.
The welfare worker told him of a boy who had alleged he had been sexually assaulted at Kincora Boys’ Home by its housemaster William McGrath, already on Mr Wallace’s radar due to his loyalist paramilitary group, Tara.  
At first, he followed routine and told his superiors. Nothing happened.
Acting on, he says, the advice of his new boss General Peter Leng, Mr Wallace flagged up stories to the many national journalists covering the conflict at the time via an off-the-record briefing in 1973.
In his memo to them he did not expressly state there was child abuse at the home, but highlighted Mr McGrath’s reputation for homosexuality and the fact he ran a children’s home.  “Any journalist with an IQ of more than four would suddenly go, ‘hang on, wait a sec’,” he recalled.
Yet it took more than seven years for the first press reports about abuse at Kincora to appear – by which time Mr Wallace was in jail. That was nothing compared to the reaction from other authorities.
Frustrated at the seeming inertia, in 1974 Mr Wallace wrote a memo complaining about inaction from the police.
A month later, he was told he was to be moved from Northern Ireland because his ‘life was in danger’.  
Within two years, he was dismissed from the Army after leaking to the journalist Robert Fisk details designed to distract him from the Army’s black propaganda work.
Taking a less controversial job working as a press officer for Arun District Council, he did not hear the name Kincora again until four years later when he was in Lewes prison for the manslaughter of Jonathan Lewis - a conviction later overturned.
McGrath, he learned, and two others, had been convicted of abusing boys at the home. Sir George Terry, of Sussex Police, was investigating the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s handling of the allegations.  He wanted to give evidence to the enquiry. Yet he risked breaching the Official Secrets Act and jeopardising his parole if he did. Official assurance did nothing to clarify his position, he said, and the Terry enquiry went ahead without him.
Mr Terry’s report appeared in 1983, dismissing allegations in the press and making limited recommendations. Only a summary was published. Mr Wallace was dismayed.
He and a growing chorus of others believe it was the first in a long trail of officials avoiding evidence of knowledge about what was happening at the home. In 1984, Mr Wallace tried again to highlight the issue by sending a 200-page document to Margaret Thatcher.  
Among the persistent allegations about the home is that intelligence agencies turned a blind eye to what was going on in order to blackmail alleged abusers, among them politically powerful men.
Last month, former Kincora resident Richard Kerr broke down in tears as he stood in front of the east Belfast home for the first time in years.  
Now middle-aged and his Irish accent overlaid with thick Texan, he recalled, in an interview for Channel 4, being taken out of Kincora to be abused in England and abroad.
Despite the many ways the state has let down Mr Wallace over the years, he still hopes it might be able to help Mr Kerr and any other potential victims.
“The system can be very good and can be very bad,” he said. “When a government puts its mind to something it can get to the bottom of it.
“I think in terms of Kincora the fact that it has not and that my view all the enquiries we have had have all been manipulated, not to succeed.
“I think in terms of child abuse there are issues at a high level probably within government and other agencies that have distorted that, where there has been a marked reluctance to get at the truth.
“I am still totally pro-army and pro-police emotionally. I therefore get very angry when it is misused.
“You do get angry because these were children who came from broken homes with nobody to argue for them, who nobody would believe, who complained and were just repeatedly abused because the people they complained against were too powerful.”
He added: “They [abusers] were prosecuted because the case was overwhelming and something had to be done – but for years they were not.”

Colin Wallace: a man always at the heart of the story

A CONTROVERSIAL figure, Colin Wallace was the man at the centre of the 1981 ‘It’s a Knockout’ murder trial.
Born in 1943 in Randalstown, Northern Ireland, he joined the Army in 1961 as an Army public relations officer. A rising star reputed for his energy and brain-power, his role would evolve into the darker-arts of propaganda and intelligence as the Troubles worsened.
He worked on a project called Clockwork Orange that was alleged to have been involved in a smear campaign against British politicians.
After his dismissal from the Army in 1975 for giving sensitive information to journalist Robert Fisk, he joined Arun District Council as a press officer, getting the local authority to the European finals of the comedy game show, It’s A Knockout.
In 1980 he was arrested over the death of his friend Jonathan Lewis, a Brighton antiques dealer whose body was found in the River Arun after he failed to turn up to drinks.  
Mr Wallace had developed a close relationship with Mr Lewis’s wife, falling short of an affair. It was considered a motive at the trial.
Alleged sightings of a car adorned with the ‘It’s a Knockout’ logo formed part of the evidence. He was convicted of manslaughter and served six years in prison.
Investigative journalist Paul Foot contacted Mr Wallace after he came out of prison in 1987, who meticulously investigated Mr Wallace’s work in Northern Ireland, his claims about sexual abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast and the Jonathan Lewis murder case.
In a sensational book published in 1989, Mr Foot suggested Mr Wallace had been framed for Mr Lewis’s death in order to keep him quiet about Kincora and debunked numerous attempts to attack his credibility. In 1996, Mr Wallace’s manslaughter conviction was quashed on appeal.
Mr Wallace has since persisted to raise concerns about Kincora and is expected to give evidence to the inquiry looking at the home.