STATEMENT OF RICHARD KERR ISSUED ON HIS BEHALF BY KRW LAW LLP IN RELATION TO HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE KINCORA MODULE OF THE HISTORICAL INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE INQUIRY
Mr Kerr was the victim of the most horrific acts of physical and sexual abuse while in the care of the state in Kincora Boys’ Home. There have subsequently been credible allegations that the British security forces and security services knew of and colluded in that abuse. Those allegations deserve fearless and public investigation through an independent inquiry with full powers.
Mr Kerr was invited to be a Core Participant at the HIA after being advised by the Chairman that his participation in the Inquiry’s investigations would be assistance.
Mr Kerr was initially unwilling to attend the HIA as a result of its attitude and previous treatment of witnesses, together with its lack of powers to compel witnesses and documents relevant to National Security. He had announced this publicly. In particular, he believed the Inquiry had insufficient powers to properly investigate these allegations and, by reason of its attitude, would not properly investigate them. Nevertheless, Mr Kerr agreed to become a Core Participant at the HIA Inquiry in the hope that he would be proved wrong, and that the HIA Inquiry would adopt an attitude befitting the nature of the allegations. His decision to participate was on the basis that his legal representatives would be permitted a proper opportunity to represent him and his interests at the Inquiry. Regrettably this has not been the case. Mr Kerr is not able to give instructions to his legal representatives because he does not access to the range material being relied upon by the Inquiry and therefore his legal representatives are unable to provide him with the necessary advice.
Mr Kerr was provided with a bundle of documents by the Inquiry only at the end of last week, after the Conclusion of the Opening statement by the Inquiry Counsel. The lateness of this disclosure clearly disadvantaged Mr Kerr in relation to those State bodies/agencies that have been in possession of their bundles of documents and benefitted from legal representation for a considerably greater period of time.
The State bodies/agencies that are Core Participants to the Inquiry appear to have been provided with bundles of documents of up to 16,000 pages. In contrast, Mr Kerr was provided with around 740 pages. It is not appropriate that the British security forces and security services represented as Core Participants have been provided with a bundle of documents that is significantly greater than the volume of documents provided to Mr Kerr as the only Core Participant survivor of abuse.
The content of the bundle of documents received by Mr Kerr includes multiple copies of his previous statements to police, previously publicly available reports, and transcripts of his media interviews. He has not been provided with any documents obtained from or submitted by the British security forces and security services. It is not clear why the Inquiry wish to conceal these documents from Mr Kerr or his legal representatives. In the context of an Inquiry that is investigating allegations that the British security forces and security services knew that abuse was and would be perpetrated on the children in Kincora and covered this up this is inherently unreasonable.
It is also apparent that the Inquiry is treating witnesses who are victims of abuse unfavourably compared to witnesses from State bodies and agencies: victims of abuse are made to sign their witness statements without having sight of or legal advice on their previous statements; much of their testimony is spent explaining discrepancies in their evidence; and, on more than one occasion victims have been presented with a document for the first time during the course of their evidence. This is not conducive to best evidence, is plainly unfair on victims of abuse and is entirely inappropriate in an Inquiry investigating state complicity in the abuse of children in care.
Mr Kerr agreed to participate in the HIA Inquiry in good faith in the hope that it would conduct an open and inclusive investigation into the allegations of abuse at Kincora. The HIA Inquiry regrettably appears determined not to do so. As a result Mr Kerr has therefore taken the decision to withdraw his agreement to participate in the Inquiry as a Core Participant. If the Inquiry changes their approach and agrees to provide Mr Kerr with full documentation and permit his legal representatives to review these he will reassess this decision, instruction his legal representatives and receive their advice.
Mr Kerr reiterates his desire for fearless and public investigation through an independent inquiry with full powers into the State complicity in the abuse he and other children suffered whilst in Kincora Boys’ Home. Such an investigation must treat those victims of abuse fairly and with no less participative rights than the British security forces and security services under investigation. Those victims and the public deserve no less.