A former British soldier who arrested alleged rioters on Bloody Sunday today denied having fabricated statements about them.
The Bloody Sunday inquiry, sitting in London, heard that the soldier, a corporal in Company C in the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, signed arrest statements saying three individuals had been seen throwing stones at the security forces.
But the soldier, known only as Soldier OO7, said he had not, in fact, seen them doing so.
He told the inquiry: “I must have believed it to be true, or I would not have said it”.
He denied suggestions by Barry MacDonald QC, representing most of the families of the 13 people who died on Bloody Sunday, that he had, with others, arrested people he had not seen rioting or put his name to false statements.
Mr MacDonald said: “And the reason you all did that was out of a sense of, perhaps, loyalty to other members of the Parachute Regiment and also a desire to establish that the people who had been arrested had been involved in rioting of a kind that may have given rise to the trouble that led to the deaths of people?”
The soldier said: “No”. He also denied what Mr MacDonald said was “the only alternative” that he deliberately perjured himself, or deliberately fabricated statements he knew to be untrue, with the intention of perjuring himself in court.
The soldier said: “At the time we arrived at the arrest centre, I can only assume this, these pro formas were already made up. We would have made a verbal statement to whoever the RMP (Royal Military Police) was. He would have filled it in. We would have signed it and got out of the place as quickly as we could.”
The soldier was giving his evidence on the 310th day of the inquiry, set up to investigate the circumstances in which British paratroopers killed 13 Catholic men and wounded another 13 people on the day of a civil rights march in Derry on January 30, 1972.