A document compiled by the British army’s most senior officer detailing shots fired by soldiers on Bloody Sunday did not explain how 13 unarmed civilians were killed, the Saville Inquiry heard today.
General Sir Mike Jackson, who was recalled to the inquiry to explain the contents of the “shot list”, denied being involved in a cover-up of the role of the Parachute Regiment in Derry on January 30, 1972.
But Mike Mansfield QC, representing the families of the victims, said there was a “serious question mark” over the list he had compiled on the night of Bloody Sunday when he was a captain in the Parachute Regiment.
“The big question mark, General, in everybody’s mind, and it may not have occurred to you, is that this list does not begin to explain any of the 13 civilian dead. Did you know that?”
Gen Jackson replied: “I am sorry, I simply do not understand the statement you are making. This list refers to people being ‘hit’ and people being ‘killed’. It makes no attempt here to say civilian or whatever.”
Mr Mansfield claimed the purpose of the list was to justify the actions of Bloody Sunday by claiming the dead were gunmen and bombers.
“General, you only have to glance down the list. The whole point of the list, I suggest, originally was in order to justify publicly why people had been shot, so they were described as ‘nail bombers’, ‘pistol firers’, ‘carrying rifles’ and so on.
“None of the 13 were carrying nail bombs, none of the 13 were carrying pistols, none of the 13 were carrying rifles, do you follow that?”
Gen Jackson said this was a matter for the tribunal to decide.
The Chief of General Staff was recalled to the Saville Inquiry for questioning after it emerged that he had written documents containing interviews with soldiers after the killing of 13 civilians in the Bogside area of Derry.
In his supplementary statement, Gen Jackson said he could not explain why the names of paratroopers or the number of rounds fired were not included.
He said he “emphatically” rejected suggestions that there was an attempt to sanitise the events.
“I regard it as beyond credibility. I can say with complete certainty that I was not involved in any attempt to distort or cover up what happened on that day and to the best of my knowledge, information and firm belief, nor was anyone else.”
He added: “If the list of engagements is not comprehensive or contains errors, I cannot provide an explanation but I am sure that any errors or omissions are the result of oversight or some other proper and innocent reasons.”
Gen Jackson, who appeared before the inquiry in April, was called again after it emerged that he had written the list of engagements, originally thought to have been written by his superior officer Major Ted Loden.
In his second statement Gen Jackson said he must have been asked to produce initial reports for more senior officers and added that if there were any mistakes in the documents they were not intentional.