The British Army’s most senior surviving Bloody Sunday officer today denied describing the day’s events as “the best thing he had seen for a long time”.
General Robert Ford, who was commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, was alleged to be “lapping it up” during the 1972 Derry march in which 13 unarmed people died.
A conversation between two unnamed and unidentified Army officers was the source of the allegations against the general.
But Gen Ford told the Bloody Sunday inquiry in central London: “Quite honestly there is no truth in what they said at all. It is highly emotional and exaggerated.”
The 1972 Widgery inquiry found that the Army had shot in self defence.
But extracts from the conversation read to the current inquiry suggest that British army officers knew innocent people had been shot.
The transcript referred to a “male voice” saying: “Look there has obviously been a hell of a lot to sort out...the doctor’s just been up the hospital and they are pulling stiffs out there as fast as they can get them out.”
The transcript then went on to state that one soldier believed up to 15 people had been killed, including women and children.
It further referred to one soldier saying that Gen Ford was “lapping it up” and that he had described the operation as “24 million dollar”.
The General was then asked whether he was “lapping it up”.
He replied: “I was not.”
Asked by Michael Mansfield QC about why he hadn’t seen more of the incidents alleged to have taken place on Bloody Sunday, the General replied: “I cannot explain it, except that I believe somewhere in my statement it says that I was in the back of the Embassy Ballroom for a time having discussions.”