A senior British officer in charge of paratroopers on Bloody Sunday must have been aware that innocent civilians were being shot, it was claimed today.
Mike Mansfield QC accused Colonel Ted Loden, a major at the time of Bloody Sunday, of being wrong in claiming he compiled a list of engagements in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday.
The lawyer said senior military figures had produced the list to show that soldiers had acted in self defence when shooting dead 13 civilians.
He added its purpose was to give an impression to the public that the paras had faced an onslaught when they went into the Bogside area of Derry in January 1972.
Mr Mansfield rejected the officer’s evidence to the inquiry that he had written the list in the back of an army vehicle after interviewing soldiers shortly after the shootings.
“We say that the evidence that the exercise that Major Loden claims he did, of sitting in the back of a Pig and noting down, is an exercise that did not take place.”
He said the details written on the list, claiming soldiers had shot gunmen and petrol bombers, differed widely from the truth – that civilians were murdered.
“Given Loden’s position himself on the street, he must have known what was going on or at least some of it. We say, therefore that the compilation of the list, however it occurred on that night, was not in relation to a search for the truth.”
Last year Mr Loden, who was in command of the paratroopers who fired more than 100 shots on Bloody Sunday, said he had interviewed most of the men in his unit and wrote down a list of 15 engagements.
Mr Mansfield, in his final submission to the Saville Inquiry, said the document was an attempt to cover up the truth by suggesting that those who were shot were terrorists.
“The object was to ensure that the public understood that the (British) army had acted in self-defence. They had to ensure that the public were given a diet of a barrage of materials.
“Not just one or two, a barrage effectively, of an onslaught which they faced as they went into Rossville Street.”
The lawyer said that once the British army had decided to claim that the soldiers had acted in self defence, there was no going back.
“What happened was a series of statements taken from the Royal Military Police which, as you know from the inconsistencies and the statements, was an exercise in which individual soldiers were desperately trying to explain the number of injured and dead.”