The British army has known all along that Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness did not open fire on soldiers on Bloody Sunday, it was claimed today.
A former British army intelligence officer said he saw documents which showed the Mid-Ulster MP was under surveillance on Bloody Sunday and did not fire a weapon.
The testimony of the ex-soldier, known by the pseudonym Martin Ingram, contradicts allegations by an IRA informant, code-named Infliction, who claimed Mr McGuinness told him he fired the first shot on Bloody Sunday.
Ingram told the Saville Inquiry in London he was an officer in the British army’s Force Research Unit in charge of maintaining the Derry Republican Desk in the early 1980s and had the highest level security clearance possible.
The former soldier said he was “100% sure” he saw surveillance reports from January 30, 1972, which showed that Mr McGuinness was being watched but was not seen using a gun on the day 13 civil rights marchers were shot dead by soldiers in Derry. A fourteenth man died later.
“At FRU I saw documents relating to Martin McGuinness’ activities on the day, both before and after the march,” he said.
“They related to what he was doing and who he was with. I saw none that suggested that he had a machine gun in his hand or fired a shot.”
He added: “The documents that I saw suggested he was closely observed.”
Mr McGuinness, who has admitted to being the IRA’s second-in-command in Derry in January 1972, has denied having fired any shots on Bloody Sunday.
Ingram has also claimed there was intelligence available to show that neither the Official nor Provisional IRA intended to indulge in violence on Bloody Sunday.
“I can recall that there was information of intelligence value received prior to the march from both Official and Provisional IRA agents that there was no intent to undertake military activity during the march,” he said.
He also questioned the version of events given by many soldiers who claimed they were shot at before returning fire.
“The collated documents which I read would leave the reader with the distinct impression that there were no shots fired at the troops prior to the troops opening fire,” he said.
“It is also my recollection that I saw no official documentation suggesting that dead bodies had been secretly buried across the border in the Republic, although there were many reports of the wounded being treated in the South for wounds received during the march.”
The former soldier entered Methodist Central Hall by a portable tunnel to protect his anonymity before he was screened from view as he gave his evidence.
Britain's Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had earlier called on the Saville Inquiry to ensure that Ingram is not questioned about any secret intelligence matters, and insisted that his real name and identity must not be disclosed.
He said Ingram would be an attractive target for republican paramilitaries who would be keen to seize, torture, interrogate and murder him.
Ingram appeared at day 329 of the Saville Inquiry, which is currently hearing evidence from military witnesses and others in London because of concerns for their safety.