Prior to the creation of the Hughes Inquiry into the Kincora scandal, civil servants internally made clear that its terms of reference were inadequate — but after the inquiry’s conclusion, a top civil servant said that the NIO should dismiss criticism from anyone claiming that the terms of reference were too narrow.
Files declassified at the Public Record Office in Belfast under the 30/20 Year Rule cast more light private civil service discussions about a controversy which outraged the Ulster public and remains deeply controversial to this day.
Almost 30 years ago, Department of Health permanent secretary Maurice Hayes advised an unnamed minister to reject anticipated criticism of the inquiry — despite fellow senior civil servants forming a consensus that the Government’s inquiry was inadequate in properly investigating allegations that sexual abuse of children at Kincora had been covered up to protect senior public figures.
In a 13 April 1987 submission, Dr Hayes said: “There could well be a re-emergence of criticism of the Hughes Inquiry as having been limited in its terms of reference and therefore unable to discover the ‘truth’ about Kincora….[former Army intelligence officer] Colin Wallace may repeat his allegations and his criticisms of the Hughes Inquiry. Our response would remain that Kincora has been investigated thoroughly - by the RUC, by the enquiries of Sir George Terry and, when all criminal aspects had been disposed of, by the Hughes Inquiry.”