I join in the general approval that has been given to the activities of the Secretary of State, and I hope that that will not cause him any problems. I cannot think of a more difficult job, and I was immediately impressed, early in his tenure of office, when he gave the press a review of his first 100 days in office. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for that interview, but it was refreshingly honest after the best part of two decades of deceit, humbug and a lot of false promise and hope. If the House is realistic, it will realise that the right hon. Gentleman was merely relaying to the public information from Army intelligence sources and military strategists about the real balance of forces and potentials in the north of Ireland.
Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East) :
Equally, I hope that no one will be particularly surprised if I say that I hope that something will grow out of this initiative. It would be wonderful if it did. I agree with other hon. Members that there have been a lot of initiatives, about which much was said at the time, but over the two decades they have all run into the ground. I would not want to do or say anything to damage the initiative if it can bring together the communities in the north of Ireland, provide a lasting solution to the problems that beset the island of Ireland and lead to the establishment of normal relationships within the two communities and between Ireland as a whole and mainland Britain.
The House knows that I should like to see a united Ireland. I suspect that, if it were united, people would, within a very short time, look back on these events with amazement. The horrors of the past few hundred years, and especially of the past 20 years, would rapidly recede into history.
I do not apologise for returning to a subject that I have raised before and I am not trying to undermine the Secretary of State's work, but for Britain to carry the enthusiasm of both communities in the north of Ireland they must be certain that there is a degree of justice and openness about what Britain does in Ireland. Those of us who have pursued the issue of some of the abuses that have taken place in the north of Ireland in recent years will help to create a lasting and peaceful solution. While abuses remain covered up there will be continuing suspicion and reluctance to trust that the British Government are genuinely even handed.
I shall again dwell on the events surrounding the Kincora boys home. We have been told again and again that that matter has been investigated and closed. We have been told again and again when we have raised the issue of what happened in Kincora that if hon. Members have any evidence they should submit it to the appropriate authorities and it will be fully investigated. Yet, with every month that passes, more and more damning information comes to light, showing that those who have genuinely tried to investigate what happened in Kincora--the RUC--have been blocked in their
I want to draw particular attention to what I thought was an excellent programme on BBC television on 2 June
--"Public Eye"--which once again brought major new evidence to light by identifying a senior intelligence source who was able to point out that he had notified MI5 at the most senior level of the events in the Kincora boys home.
I shall recount the events at Kincora for the benefit of any right hon. or hon. Member who has not followed the story. Certainly anyone who has had to rely on the British press for that information will be very uninformed. Three men who were subsequently sentenced for their acts at Kincora--Joe Mains, Raymond Sempel and William
McGrath--presided over the Kincora boys home for the best part of two decades and had a record of systematic, year-by-year child abuse of the most violent kind. They were guilty of acts that are deeply shocking. It is impossible to read the testaments of the boys concerned without being shaken--they are horrifying. That abuse continued for perhaps even longer than two decades.
It is worrying that disquiet at that state of affairs was expressed first not by someone on the left or even in the Labour party. When those three evil men were finally sentenced to prison for their long campaign of child abuse, the then Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Sir Robert Lowry, said--
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) :Perhaps I may interrupt my hon. Friend to make this observation. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is usually the most courteous of men, but I note that he is leaving the Chamber. It may well be that he has urgent business elsewhere, but some of us are of the opinion--and the Parliamentary Private Secretary, the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind), may laugh--that the issue that my hon. Friend raises will not go away. It will be raised again and again because it is a disgrace to the British state.
Mr. Livingstone :I agree with my hon. Friend. It is a pity that we do not have a further response from the Government to the points that have been raised. I also agree with my hon. Friend that the issue will not go away and that we will continue to raise it. There are other guilty men who should be in prison for what they did, or for what they did not do, but who remain free.
Sir Robert Lowry said when sentencing Mains, Sempel and McGrath : "It is not my custom, nor is it wise, to allocate blame to people who are not before the court. But many people will be surprised to learn that such a state of affairs as prevailed in this boys home was able to go on for so many years."
Ten years have elapsed, and there have been six inquiries, but still no satisfactory answer has been produced to Sir Robert's point.
It is a matter of widespread public concern in Northern Ireland in particular that, although the authorities knew since at least the early 1970s what was happening at Kincora, there was no intervention. The suffering and abuse inflicted on those boys continued. The word "abuse" cannot fully describe what was done. There were two decades of systematic, continuous, violent anal rape of the most appalling kind. I commend right hon. and hon. Members to read the boys' accounts. Many of them have grown into men whose lives can never be put back together. They live with the consequences of the treatment that they suffered. If there is any evidence that the state knew what was happening as early as 1974 but decided to take no action, that is a crime as grave as that of the sodomisers themselves.
Mr. Dalyell :I ought to place on record that the Secretary of State has returned to the Chamber. Perhaps he had to leave his place for the same reason that we all do from time to time, but I am glad that he has returned to hear my hon. Friend's remarks.
Mr. Livingstone :I often find that people tend to hurry off when I am talking. It is a continuing problem that I have. It may be that people do not like to hear what I have to say.
This year, there has been a series of dramatic developments, and I refer not just to the findings of the investigation by "Public Eye". Earlier this year, after years of our hearing Colin Wallace being dismissed as a crank, a Walter Mitty figure, and someone who was to be ridiculed, the Secretary of State for Defence came to the House and admitted that there was evidence to support Colin Wallace's allegations. Although most press attention focused on Clockwork Orange and on whether there had been a campaign to destabilise the Labour Government in 1974, that was not the biggest crime. The vital point is that Colin Wallace was aware of events at Kincora and made his senior officers aware of them. He also drafted press briefing material that drew attention to the role of McGrath, who was running a paramilitary organisation called TARA. That material was forensically tested to provide evidence for Paul Foot's book, and it was proved that those documents were written at the time claimed by Colin Wallace and not after the event. The documents made it clear beyond doubt that senior Army intelligence officers and MI5 knew as early as 1974, and certainly by 1975, that systematic child abuse was occurring at Kincora--which was allowed to continue until 1980, until exposed not by the authorities but by the press.
We have a right to say that if the Government had devoted one tenth of the effort directed at denigrating Colin Wallace to investigating with an open mind the events at Kincora, the problem might by now be resolved, and all the guilty brought to justice.
We know that there is to be an investigation by Mr. Calcutt, but I regret that the Government have not made its terms wide enough to allow Mr. Calcutt to investigate Kincora. In the past, the terms of reference of those charged with investigating Kincora were so narrowly drawn that it was virtually impossible for them to investigate the claims that Army intelligence and MI5 knew what was happening. That has fed the strong suspicion that there was a reason for MI5 allowing that child abuse to continue. That is the most disturbing allegation that can be made.
Mr. Dalyell :If my hon. Friend will allow me to intervene once more while the Secretary of State is present, I emphasise the sheer anger that is felt by some of us. On 10 June, Colin Wallace wrote to the Prime Minister, mentioning certain persons by name :
"I enclose with this letter a selection of pages from a document which was typed during the period for the Information Policy unit by Mr. C. T. T. Whitehead, until recently Deputy Chief Press Officer at the MOD and currently with the Home Office".
At least a fortnight later, Mr. Whitehead had not been contacted and knew nothing of the matter. No one had bothered to do anything about Mr. Wallace's letter. There
was a complete reluctance on the part of some individuals to get up off their backsides and find out more. That is why we are so angry.
Mr. Livingstone :I share my hon. Friend's anger. This issue should stand apart and not be subject to the usual restrictions on the length of time available for the Secretary of State to reply. It is not unusual when one writes to a Minister about detailed points of concern relating to Kincora that six months elapse before one receives a full reply. Instead, one is sent holding reply after holding reply. That suggests that someone is deeply worried. The television programme "Public Eye" on 2 June brought new information to the attention of the public. It definitely identified that by 1975 the state knew about the abuse of young boys at Kincora. Roy Garland, who had been number two in the paramilitary organisation TARA, as effectively its deputy commanding officer, approached the police. He had been frustrated by not being able to get some movement by the RUC on the allegations that he had heard, so he conveyed his concern to two intelligence officers based at Army headquarters in Lisburn. A meeting was arranged by one of Roy Garland's Christian contacts who had introduced him to an Army intelligence officer. Interviewed on "Public Eye", Garland said : "I must say I had the impression they knew a lot already--that like most of these situations, there was nothing terribly radically new that I had to tell them. One of these officers appeared to be really concerned about the situation. Now, when I say concerned, he seemed concerned about McGrath's job and the political involvements as well, and he seemed really and genuinely concerned about it. He said he was a Christian, an evangelical Christian like myself." Roy Garland never knew what had happened to the information that he gave the two Army intelligence officers, and assumed that nothing further had been done. We owe a debt of gratitude to the "Public Eye" programme, which managed to find out what did happen to that information. Thanks to Roy Garland--not someone with whom I agree politically--by 1975 both the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Army intelligence knew that systematic child abuse was going on ; yet for a further five years lives were destroyed and devastated because of the abuse of young boys. We need to know what happened to Roy Garland's information. The "Public Eye" programme managed to find the senior of the two Army intelligence officers who met Roy Garland. He was given the alias "James" in the programme ; for obvious reasons he does not wish to be named or identified, as certain people might want to take action against him, and I have no intention of naming him today. The officer was prepared to appear on television and to make very disturbing allegations. He claimed that the information that he had obtained from Roy Garland had been passed on to MI5. "James" continued to work in Northern Ireland for another year or two on various military intelligence operations, but was blocked from doing anything about the information from Roy Garland concerning child abuse. The senior officer's job was targeting loyalist organisations to gather intelligence. Many people in Army intelligence at that time thought that there was a danger of UDI in Northern Ireland, and of some sort of coup d'etat. While the public believed that the main target was the IRA, a vast amount of Army intelligence work was devoted to the activities of some people who have managed to get themselves elected to the House of Commons. In retrospect, it will probably be found that Army intelligence got a bit excited and carried away ; I do not think that there was ever any realistic prospect of an independent Northern Ireland state, but often Army intelligence does get carried away, to say nothing of what happens in MI5. Watching the programme, we waited with bated breath to see what happened to Roy Garland's information. It was clear that he had filed his report, which went to a senior MI5 officer--who had been identified by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) as Ian Cameron. In a letter to my hon. Friend on 26 June, Colin Wallace identified the officer concerned-- Mr. Dalyell : I have the letter here. It says : "For example, the BBC Public Eye' programme demonstrated very clearly that : (a) both Army Intelligence and MI5 were aware of the Kincora situation in the mid 1970s ; (b) MI5 refused to allow one of its senior officers, Ian Cameron, to be interviewed by the police about the scandal". Ministers should not take it that we are necessarily against the intelligence services. I do not want to be too personal, but it so happens that next Thursday--along with the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery)--I shall be attending a memorial service for George Young, formerly of MI6. To put it bluntly, people are not asked to do that if they are automatically against the intelligence services. Some of us are very concerned about this matter. Mr. Livingstone : The MI5 officer who received the information indirectly was Ian Cameron. The Army intelligence officer wrote a report of his meeting with Garland, and sent it to his Army superiors as a matter of routine. He said that it was then passed to MI5--which shared the same building at Army headquarters--and that he was summoned to see the senior MI5 officer. On the "Public Eye" programme, he said of that meeting : "I can't honestly say that I was expecting three gold stars but I went up feeling pretty positive, expecting a normal meeting. Instead I got blown out of his office. He's rude to me, he tells me that the kind of information that I have submitted is not proper intelligence, that we have nothing--we, as intelligence officers, don't dabble in homosexual affairs, that these moral matters are nothing to do with us. He vilifies my report, he tells me to cut off the contact. I can remember him saying to me words to the effect get rid of him, break the contact, just get rid'. I'm surprised because we had had a pretty good relationship going up until then. He blows me out of the office." That, surely, is a remarkable position for one of the most senior MI5 officers on operational duty in the north of Ireland : having been told of systematic child abuse by a leading militant Protestant paramilitary, MI5 decided to do nothing about it. We were told in the programme about other information made public by "James", the unidentified Army intelligence officer. We were told that he was involved in discussions about trying to blackmail another Unionist paramilitary leader, of suggestions that MI5 had film of that Unionist leader involved in homosexual activity, and of how that information was to be used to make him more amenable. It seems likely that, when MI5 arrived in the north of Ireland as the troubles blew up at the end of the 1960s and found--as we now know from all Column 1173the published accounts of intelligence sources there--that there was virtually no effective intelligence-gathering network, it would have found a nest of vipers burrowed away inside Kincora, and tremendous opportunities. One could either expose that abuse and stop it, or use it to entrap people that one wished to control--people who were perceived as a threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I think that that is what happened--that MI5 was aware of what was going on at Kincora, but considered it more important to continue to gather intelligence that could be used to blackmail those Unionist politicians who were not part of the establishment network. I have not the slightest doubt that the prime target of much of that activity was the Democratic Unionist party. All kinds of rumours began to float around. The leader of the DUP--the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)--has raised in the House other attempts to smear leading members of his party, involving forged bank accounts and a network of rumour and suspicion. Senior officers in MI5 made a calculated decision that it was better, on balance, to allow the child abuse to continue, because the intelligece being gathered gave them a hold over some of the more eccentric figures inside the Unionist paramilitary organisations. Mr. Dalyell : It should go on record that some of us think that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and his colleagues suffered far more, and far more outrageously, at that time than did Harold Wilson or Ted Short. Mr. Livingstone : I agree with my hon. Friend. The vast amount of time that I have put into this matter has led me to the conclusion that the British state sought to destroy the hon. Member for Antrim North, but has been unable to do so. He was the prime target, not the IRA or the Irish National Liberation Army. For all our disagreements, he is a democratic politician who puts his views to the ballot box. Elements within the British security services decided to destroy him and his party by any means possible. Kincora was part of that. After three years of examining the matter, I have not found a shred of evidence to link that party with the events at Kincora, although I have had many interesting titbits dropped in my direction to try to lead me to make such a suggestion in a public speech. In the past 10 years there have been six inquiries into Kincora, and a vast amount of work has been done. However, all the public disquiet remains. In 1980, the first of the three RUC inquiries led to the conviction of McGrath, Mains and Sempel. A month after those convictions--December 1981--the then Northern Ireland Secretary, James Prior, announced the establishment of a committee of inquiry to be headed by Stephen McGonagle, the former ombudsman for Northern Ireland. It sat for one day, three members resigned, and that was the end of that. McGonagle, who was interviewed on the "Public Eye" programme, made it quite clear that he thought that all the inquiries that had been conducted so far were unsatisfactory and had not indentified what had been going on, and that there needed to be a full, frank and open inquiry. Two new investigations were set up after that. One involving possible criminal matters was headed by the chief constable of Sussex, Sir George Terry. Sir George was asked to oversee a new RUC inquiry into allegations Column 1174that Kincora was part of a homosexual vice ring involving civil servants and other prominent figures. That was conducted by the same RUC team under Superintendent George Caskey, who had brought McGrath and the others to justice. Sir George completed his report in October 1983. The following year, the public inquiry got under way with a retired English judge, William Hughes, as its chairman. Whenever I have raised the matter in the House, I have been told again and again by leading members of the Government that it has been investigated by Hughes. The first page of the Hughes inquiry report states that under its terms of reference it was not investigating anything to do with the intelligence services or public figures. That is right at the beginning of the report--we do not need to read the rest of it. I ploughed through it-- it is not the lightest or most entertaining reading. It is quite a horrifying story. It is nonsense to suggest that that is the answer to the allegations that many hon. Members have raised. The RUC team, led by Superintendent George Caskey, under the supervision of George Terry, tried to probe the activities of the Security Service, however. That came to light in the "Public Eye" programme ; most hon. Members had not been aware of it before. The programme makers tried to put key questions to the senior officer in MI5 but they were denied access to him by the Ministry of Defence. There we have the RUC charged with investigating this matter and being blocked, not by some criminal or by some sleazy character in the shadows, but by the Government--barred from interviewing the MI5 officer about why he had not acted on the information that was passed to him by Roy Garland. It is absolute nonsense. Mr. Dalyell : Has my hon. Friend heard that Sir John Hermon was absolutely livid when he found out, albeit in retirement, exactly how he was treated and how his colleagues were treated? Sir John Hermon, whom I do not know, has every right to be extremely angry. Mr. Livingstone : It will be obvious by now that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and I are not defending people with whom we find ourselves broadly in political agreement. None of the people whom I have been defending so far would throw a vote my way this side of hell, but they were right. They were sought to be targeted and destroyed by the British state. Few people have been more critical than I of abuses by the RUC, but it is not the fault of the RUC that this matter has not been brought to a conclusion. It tried but it was blocked by the Ministry of Defence, which denied it access to the MI5 officer who refused to take action on the information that was passed to him from Roy Garland via the Army intelligence officer. Roy Garland told the RUC team about his meetings with the Army intelligence officer who was given the name James in the programme. The RUC then spoke to that Army intelligence officer, and he gave his account of the way in which he had been treated by the senior MI5 officer who refused to take action. It was obvious that the RUC would need to interview that MI5 officer. Its attempt to gain access to MI5 began at Stormont, at a meeting with a deputy secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, who had recently been attached to the Ministry of Defence. Arrangements were made for detectives from the RUC team to visit Ministry of Defence offices in London. Over two months, several meetings took place between the RUC and an official representing the Ministry of Defence, but, despite repeated requests, the MI5 officer was never made available for interview. No explanation was ever given. Further approaches were made through the Northern Ireland Office and, eventually, a compromise was reached. The RUC would submit a series of questions in writing. The list of questions included why no action was taken to investigate the allegations Army intelligence had passed on, why the Army intelligence officer concerned was told to drop Kincora, why he was told to set up contact with the source, and whether MI5 knew what was going on in the home and, if MI5 did know, whether it was prepared to let it continue for another purpose. No answers to those questions were ever received. We are not talking about a bunch of criminals using a slick, expensive barrister to avoid justice ; we are talking about the British Government, some of the most senior officers answerable to the British Government, and this Government--not a previous Government--blocking the RUC's attempt to bring the guilty to justice. The avenue of inquiry came to a halt, not surprisingly, when the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that there would be no further criminal prosecutions with regard to Kincora. As far as the RUC was concerned, the case had been closed--over its objections at the squashing of its investigation. The RUC investigation was completed without the evidence of the senior MI5 figures and, as late as 1982, the Security Service had managed to obstruct a top-level police investigation overseen by a senior English chief constable. I find that breathtaking. This really is the time to hear members of the Government explain why the Government took that action. Would there have been a threat to the security of the British state if the matter had come out into the open? That would be so only if something absolutely horrendous was being done. I am prepared to give way if any hon. Member wants to volunteer some information on why this Government stopped their own loyal officers in the RUC investigating the Government's own Security Service's involvement in the matter. I notice that no Conservative Member is rushing to intervene to enlighten me or the House on what has been going on. When Sir George Terry completed his report, he made one conclusion, which he worded carefully. He thanked the military authorities with fulsome praise and said : "the military sources have been very frank with me and perfectly open during the ongoing inquiry under Detective Superintendent Caskey." That clearly does not include MI5. There is no reference to the co- operation of the intelligence services. Frankly, I do not think that the Government can continue to stonewall any longer. I have raised this matter in the House for three years. Members of other parties have been doing so for over a decade. There has been waffle and bluster. Clearly, one does not blame the present Secretary of State, who has inherited an explosive mess. It is not his fault. Most of those who are responsible for the decisions have long since retired, but that does not mean that they should be able to retire with honour. Mr. Dalyell : There has been bluster, but there has also been abuse. I happen to think that the present Ministers are courteous and helpful. However, I remember that awful night--I have never been angrier in the Chamber Column 1176--when my hon. Friend and I were given by a Minister a load of abuse such as I have not had in 27 years. It was from the then junior Minister at the Home Office, the right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten). I thought that he was a disgrace to that university town that night. The right hon. Gentleman has never apologised or withdrawn his remarks. He said things that were subsequently proved wrong by a Government statement ; if they were not wrong, the Calcutt inquiry would not have been set up. Mr. Livingstone : I thank my hon. Friend for reminding me of some of the unkind things that have been said. As someone who has spent 20 years in the London Labour party, it did not seem too bad to me at the time--I have heard worse. The Army intelligence officer, who interviewed Garland and passed on information to his seniors and to MI5, said : "We are not talking here about great national secrets, we are talking about covering up a matter concerning a moral issue of the gravest importance : the abuse of young men and officials knowing about it and officialdom apparently, for some reason, doing nothing. That's something that not only shocks and horrifies me, that's something that will shock and horrify in every part of our society and I believe that this issue ... has to be brought out into the open and we have to say these three most difficult words in the English language : we were wrong'--either because it was bungled or because there is some more sinister, conspiratorial reason for covering it up. And I don't know what the reason is but I do know that it was covered up because I put the information in and nobody did anything about it." Surely someone on the Government Benches can explain what went on to justify that decision not to take action when MI5 was told about the child abuse, and to allow it to continue for another five years. I do not believe that that was a mistake. I do not believe that someone simply filed it away. The abusive way in which the Army intelligence officer was treated by the senior MI5 officer makes it clear that it was not a mistake ; it was an MI5 operation which it did not want blown and wound up. I do not blame Conservative Members for this, because it all happened years ago, but the cover-up must stop because the people who decided to take no action are guilty of the most appalling crime. They are complicit in the destruction of the lives of young boys, many of whom will never by able to recover or lead normal lives. The sums that are now being handed out in the courts as compensation are irrelevant to the damage that those young men suffered. Elements in MI5 decided to allow what was happening to continue because they felt that it was in the national interest to be able to blackmail Unionist politicians who were involved in the abuse. I could have made a speech about who might or might not be involved in the abuse. Any hon. Member who travels to Ireland and picks up a copy of a magazine such as Now will read a list of names of the great and the good. I am not prepared to repeat those names in the House because I am not certain that the lists are accurate. We know that several people were involved, but only three men have gone to prison for the continual violent anal rape of young boys at Kincora. I believe that many more leading figures were involved. We know--I wrote about this outside the House last year--that four people who were suspected of abusing those boys died in mysterious circumstances while the RUC was investigating them. Even in terms of the violence that exists in Northern Ireland, it is a remarkable coincidence that people were killed between one interview with the RUC and another. Column 1177I believe that something absolutely rotten at the heart of the British intelligence services is festering away. As long as I am a Member of the House--or even outside it--I shall continue to keep on about this, because the people who took the decision to allow that abuse to continue are guilty of an appalling crime and they should be exposed for it--not just the three scapegoats. They sought not only to destroy the lives of those boys, but to use what was going on to try to destroy the reputations of Members of this House and of legitimate political organisations. I do not agree with those organisations but they have every right to exist and function in a democratic society. There is no justification for those people continuing to be employed by the British Government in any form whatsoever. It is time that they were exposed. It is time that the Government stopped waffling and admitted what went on, punished the guilty people and made damn certain that we make changes in the way in which our intelligence services operate so that something like this can never happen again. 7.22 pm