An investigator with the Royal Military Police today denied having “watered down” statements from paratroopers who opened fired on Bloody Sunday.
Within hours of the killings the investigator, identified only as Mr Brobson, began face-to-face interviews with the soldiers deployed at the march.
Mr Brobson was then aged 18 and had been working at the RMP’s Special Investigation Branch for a matter of months.
He was despatched in the middle of the night from Lisburn to Derry to take the statements and at that time did not know that people had been killed, he told the inquiry.
Among those he interviewed was Soldier H, who fired at least 19 rounds. Mr Brobson could not remember any specific details about the interview with Soldier H.
He also took a statement from Soldier M, who fired in Rossville Street.
Today Mr Brobson was questioned about possible discrepancies which appear between Soldier M’s 1972 RMP statement and the one he has given to this inquiry.
In his most recent evidence Soldier M says he is certain that he spoke originally of two men moving along the western side of the Rossville Flats possibly carrying rifles. This is not reflected fully in his statement, said Michael Mansfield QC, representing families of some the bereaved and wounded.
The men were both pushing long black stick-shaped objects in front of them, which Soldier M was “sure” were weapons, the inquiry was told.
Mr Mansfield asked Mr Brobson if he would have “watered it down in someway?”
Mr Brobson replied: “No, if he had been adamant I am sure I would have included weapons in his statement.”
Mr Brobson said he did not adjust the statements in any way because he did not have details of how events unfolded on Bloody Sunday.
Like all of the military personnel he interviewed that day, Soldier M was given the opportunity to read and make changes to his statement before signing it, Mr Brobson added.
He accepted that soldiers probably felt “apprehension” if they were likely to be questioned by the RMP. Mr Brobson also denied suggestions that he or another SIB investigator intimidated witnesses or added reports of hearing a shot or a nailbomb explode into one of the soldiers’ statements.
Mr Brobson said: “No, the story must have come from the witness or else I would not have written it down.”
Earlier, a senior military historian said that there was nothing suspicious about the disappearance of 1,000 Army photographs taken on Bloody Sunday.
John Harding, deputy head of the Ministry of Defence’s Army Historical Branch responsible for co-ordinating MoD searches for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, believes they may have had little historical value.
No officials have hindered his efforts to locate documents, he told the inquiry.
Nothing has been suppressed and no documents have been illicitly removed from files before he had a chance to inspect it, he said, adding that the photographs had been considered to have “low grade of value” and many were destroyed.
Mr Barry MacDonald, representing many of the injured or bereaved families, had asked him: “Do you not think it is highly suspicious, to say the least, that when 10 photographers were taking hundreds of photographs from seven different regiments, that not one of those photographs survives?”
The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.