Bloody Sunday secrets taken to the grave
Evidence allowed Cameron to make much-praised statement
None of the shots described in the list conformed to any of the shots which evidence told had actually been fired. Some trajectories took bullets through brick buildings. In their evidence, none of the soldiers said to have been debriefed by Loden recalled this happening.
Other documents in Jackson’s handwriting came to light – personal diaries of the day by Wilford, the three para company commanders and the battalion intelligence officer. The transcription of this dossier of documents must have been a lengthy and wearying exercise.
Recalled to the stand in October 2003, Jackson said that he had had no memory of any of this when first giving evidence but had recovered a “vague memory” after learning that the documents had subsequently been produced and put to Loden. Under questioning, the chief of staff seemed hampered by poor memory, on more than 20 occasions using phrases along the lines, “I cannot remember,” “I do not recall,” “I have only a very vague memory.”
Saville accepted both Loden’s original claim that he had personally written out the shot-list and Jackson’s subsequent explanation that he must have copied out by hand both Loden’s list and the other documents, although he could offer no explanation of why he might have done this or on whose orders. No original of Loden’s list has ever been found.
In volume eight of the report, Saville rejected suggestions from the families’ lawyers that “the list played some part in a cover-up to conceal the emerging truth that some innocent civilians had been shot and killed by soldiers of 1 Para, although it is not explained exactly how this conspiracy is said to have worked”.
After the massacre
Saville went on to cite an interview on BBC on the day after the massacre in which a British army spokesman used the list as his basis for explaining the “shooting engagements”. The report also acknowledged that the shot-list had been distributed to British diplomatic missions around the world by British Information Services as the “official” account of the killings.
Saville did not refer in his report to the possibility that here we had not just evidence of a conspiracy to cover up the truth of “unjustified and unjustifiable” killings of unarmed civil rights demonstrators but clear sight of the conspiracy in action, with Jackson and Loden at its heart.
It is widely assumed that the Bloody Sunday matter is over and done with. But it isn’t.