Belfast Telegraph

Ballymurphy statements in my name falsified, ex-Army doctor tells inquest

Victim: Joseph Corr
Victim: Joseph Corr
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

An ex-Army doctor who is purported to have made official statements describing major surgery he carried out on a man shot by soldiers in Ballymurphy has told an inquest they are false.

M382 was posted to Northern Ireland in August 1971 as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps to cover for a consultant surgeon who was off on leave, despite having had only two weeks of surgical experience.

Yesterday he told the Ballymurphy inquest he was "astonished" by Army and police statements purporting to have been made by him in 1972.

"I am certain I did not make these statements or perform the surgery referred to," he said.

"Even though it was 48 years ago my memories have not faded, they have been etched in my mind indelibly."

The witness pointed to several "glaring mistakes" as he insisted he did not treat either of two men fatally shot on August 11, 1971.

The statements claimed M382 certified the death of John Laverty and performed major surgery on a severely wounded Joseph Corr, who subsequently died of his injuries.

But the witness told the inquest that in hindsight "it was an absurdity" that he was ever put in the post in the military wing of Musgrave Park Hospital.

"I do not know how the MoD justified it," he said.

M382 concluded that the only explanation was that someone else wrote the statements as he said it "beggars belief" that he had simply forgotten the events outlined in the documents.

"I want the relatives of Mr Corr to know I didn't operate on him. I was an inexperienced surgeon, I couldn't have done it."

The witness said Mr Corr's injuries were so severe that it is inconceivable that he would have attempted the surgery without any memory of doing so.

He also dismissed the idea that other medics were standing by and watching someone so inexperienced attempt to carry out the surgery.

"Some things are impossible. This was not a one-man band," he added.

M382 also denied ever meeting Mr Corr's widow Eileen Corr, as she claimed in a statement which was read to the court.

In it she claimed she met the medic when she visited her husband in the hospital and that he briefed her on his condition, warning that he was unlikely to come back off the operating table.

"I am not casting aspersions on her memory, but she was under enormous stress after suffering a terrible loss," the witness said.

M382 said he only joined the Army as a second lieutenant in 1965 to make money after graduating from a three-year university course.

"I was one of four children and my father was a parson," he explained.

"We didn't have much means and it was an attractive way to finance myself."

He was promoted to lieutenant and then again to the rank of captain once he became a fully registered medic in 1969.

The doctor claimed he was "left alone" by the Army and was never briefed on the situation in Northern Ireland before being sent here.

He described the single unit military wing as a "Florence Nightingale-type of ward" which lacked facilities including basic intensive care equipment.

"There was no anaesthetist in the wing and I don't recall if it had its own operating theatre," he added.

"It's difficult to understand how it was intended to function as a surgical unit."

M382 also questioned why the MoD has been unable to provide the names of other medics, including an Army major, who were stationed in the hospital.

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