Byline: Tim Shipman
BRITAIN yesterday held its hands up to the killing of 14 civilians gunned down by soldiers on Bloody Sunday.
More than 38 years after the notorious events in Londonderry, when troops opened fire on protesters on the streets, the mammoth Saville Inquiry report delivered a devastating indictment.
It said none of the dead had posed a threat and the actions of the soldiers were totally without justification.
Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a shocking analysis of the bloodshed and told the House of Commons: 'On behalf of the Government, indeed on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.' Lord Saville's report said that out-of-control British paratroopers had embarked on an 'indefensible' shooting spree.
The Supreme Court judge also said that former IRA leader Martin McGuinness - now Northern Ireland Deputy Prime Minister - spent Bloody Sunday armed with a submachine gun, and may have fired it.
But Lord Saville, who has spent [pounds sterling]200million and more than 12 years drawing a conclusion to Britain's darkest day in the 30 years of the Ulster troubles, cleared McGuinness and the IRA of any blame for the Army's conduct.
His findings drew from Mr Cameron a sweeping apology for the killings of marchers on January 30, 1972. Mr Cameron told the Commons: 'What happened on Bloody Sunday. was both unjustified and unjustifiable.
It was wrong. On behalf of the Government, indeed on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.'
In its key judgements, Lord Saville's report said:. Soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment lost their discipline and self-control and fired without cause.
They acted in the 'indefensible belief' that IRA supporters deserved to be shot.
The battalion commander, Colonel Derek Wilford, disobeyed his orders and gave wrong commands to his soldiers.
Parachute Regiment soldiers have lied about their conduct for 38 years.
British soldiers fired the first shots on Bloody Sunday.
One victim was shot trying to crawl away from soldiers. Another was shot as he lay wounded on the ground. A father was shot as he tended his dying son.
However IRA men were in place to snipe at the Army and did fire shots early in the violence. One victim was an IRA member who was in possession of nail bombs.
There was no UK Government conspiracy to kill demonstrators in Ulster, and no other senior officer was at fault.
Despite Martin McGuinness's armed presence, he did nothing that gave soldiers justification for shooting .
The condemnation of soldiers seemed unlikely last night to end in prosecutions. Lord Saville made no recommendations for the men to be pursued in law and Mr Cameron said it was not for politicians to decide. …