Ex-Para chief's own solicitors tell Ballymurphy inquest to discount his statement on medical grounds
A former commander of the Parachute Regiment has told an inquest he has "no recollection" of deaths in Ballymurphy in the days immediately after the introduction of internment.
A statement from Lt Col Derek Wilford, who commanded 1 Para when 10 people were shot dead over three days in August 1971, was provided to solicitors acting on behalf of the coroner.
"This comes as a complete surprise to me," he claimed in the document.
Lt Col Wilford recalled how the whole battalion had been interviewed after the events of Bloody Sunday on January 30, 1972, but could not remember the same thing happening after Ballymurphy.
"None of that information came my way," his statement added.
"Had it come my way, it would have been quite serious."
Members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside in Derry, resulting in the deaths of 13 people.
In 2010 the Saville Inquiry found the deaths were the result of soldiers losing control, and Prime Minister David Cameron issued a House of Commons apology, describing the massacre as "unjustified and unjustifiable".
However, there is a question mark over the credibility of the evidence from Wilford, who lives abroad and is in poor health.
Coroner Mrs Justice Keegan revealed she had received a letter from solicitors acting on behalf of Col Wilford, which recommends that little weight be given to the statement on account of medical grounds.
The inquest also heard evidence from M2294, a former adjutant of 1 Para, who was on duty when soldiers advanced down the Whiterock Road on the morning of August 11, 1971.
The witness, who was in a mobile unit, said he had not been part of the chain of command.
He said his duties were to monitor the radios, keep a clear idea of the operation and make sure that the commanding officer was properly informed, which meant he did not see any shooting or casualties.
However, he was able to assist the court in understanding some of the military logs kept at the time.
Meanwhile, a soldier known as M171 yesterday failed to appear before the inquest to give evidence about the deaths of Joseph Corr and John Laverty on the Upper Whiterock Road.
A barrister told the court that the military witness had failed to contact the Coroner's Service since the subpoena had been issued.
The inquest was told the soldier had made no contact with the Ministry of Defence either despite fruitless attempts from its staff to make contact with M171.
The coroner asked that the necessary enforcement steps be taken, such as in the case of Soldier M57, who previously failed to appear to give evidence.