Ex-NIO health Minister the subject of child abuse files

The former Kincora boys' home in east Belfast
The former Kincora boys' home in east Belfast

A former direct rule Minister who was responsible for health and social services in Londonderry between the collapse of the old Stormont and the first Northern Ireland Assembly is the subject of files that have been shared with police and will be passed on to the Hart inquiry into child sex abuse.

The files concern former Conservative NIO Minister William Van Straubenzee who was Minister in charge of Health and Social Services as well as Home Affairs and Community Relations here between late 1972 and the end of 1973.

Van Straubenzee also oversaw a committee set up to tackle religious and political discrimination in employment matters in Northern Ireland, which resulted in the establishment of the Fair Employment Agency (FEA).

Van Straubenzee was also alleged, by former Royal Irish Ranger (RIR) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member Albert Baker, who confessed his involvement in various UDA murders and armed robberies, to have promised to have the latter’s family rehoused in England in 1973.

Among Baker’s alleged confessions, according to the report of an independent commission into the Dublin bombings, was that “he had delivered the explosive used in the bombs of December 1, 1972 from Eglinton, Derry to somewhere in Belfast.”
Papers concerning Van Straubenzee have now been revealed as amongst those that should have been but weren’t handed over to the Home Office last summer in relation to its investigations into child sex abuse.

Richard Heaton of the Cabinet Office wrote to the Home Office in May to explain: “A PREM file about Sir William van Straubenzee was identified in late January 2015.

“This file did not meet your search criteria and was part of a batch of files that had been selected for destruction in 2013, before your Inquiry began, as part of our routine records management process: To guard against the destruction of historically important records, The National Archives team checks files selected for· destruction.

“As a consequence, on January 22, The National Archives referred the file to the Cabinet Office to be reviewed. On review. my team noted that the file contained references to the Kincora Boys’ Home; Roger Smethurst promptly drew this to your attention .•

“The final group of papers about· Peter Morrison. Leon Brittan. Peter Hayman, William van Straubenzee and Colin .Wallace’s allegations about Kincora were found in a separate Cabinet Office store of assorted and unstructured papers.”

The files relating to the former NIO Minister date from April 2, 1982 to February 9, 1987, long after he had left the Government.