Transcripts

Return to the list of transcripts

Full Hearings

Hearing: 27th February 2009, day 116

Click here to download the LiveNote version

 

 

 

 

 

 


----------------------

 

 

ROSEMARY NELSON

PUBLIC INQUIRY

 

 

----------------------

 

held at:
The Interpoint Centre
20-24 York Street
Belfast BT15 1AQ


on Friday, 27 February 2009
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 116

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

1 Friday, 27 February 2009

2 (10.15 am)

3 Housekeeping

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Griffin?

5 MR GRIFFIN: Thank you very much for agreeing to hear me.

6 I just wanted to pick up on something that you mentioned

7 at the close of the open part of B629's evidence

8 yesterday.

9 You mentioned you had received a renewed application

10 from me. May I just explain what happened so that there

11 is no mystery. What I'd I had applied for was to be

12 present in the closed hearing of B629 and that

13 application was refused.

14 Yesterday morning, B629 on various occasions

15 mentioned explanations about certain events that were of

16 direct relevance to the MIT, which he said that he

17 wanted to expand upon in closed session, and it was at

18 that stage I decided I might renew my application. And

19 you received the document at that stage before I had

20 been able to discuss it with Mr Phillips. I had

21 identified, I think, seven areas of direct relevance to

22 the MIT that the witness said he wanted to expand upon

23 in closed session and was informed by Mr Phillips that

24 he didn't intend in closed session to deal with six of

25 those areas, and that, it has to be said, took the wind

 

 

2

 

1 out of my sails. And for that reason, I didn't proceed

2 with the application.

3 May I just say this: we are proceeding on the basis

4 that the Panel will not be making adverse findings

5 against our clients arising from evidence heard in

6 closed hearing from which we're excluded, and certainly

7 in circumstances where no information is provided to us

8 after the event in accordance with the protocol.

9 I should say at this stage apart from one possibly

10 minor exception, we have yet to receive any information

11 in accordance with the protocol. I just wanted to

12 explain what had happened yesterday.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: What I suggest is that next week, when you

14 have a transcript of you have said to me, you take a

15 copy of that transcript and see it is delivered to one

16 of the counsel who was present during the closed

17 hearing -- one of the Counsel to the Inquiry, that is --

18 and just say to him or her, "Can you reassure me that

19 what you have said and understood to be the position was

20 the position in the closed hearing?"

21 MR GRIFFIN: I will do that, and thank you.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: I think that covers it.

23 MR GRIFFIN: Thank you very much.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Right, thank you very much.

25 Mr Currans, will you just make the checks and then I

 

 

3

 

1 will ask you -- everything is shut now, is it?

2 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. May we go through the checklist. Is

4 the public area screen fully in place, locked and the

5 key secured?

6 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

8 screen closed?

9 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

11 and securely fastened?

12 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

14 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

15 of this chamber?

16 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Can the video engineer confirm, please, that

18 the two witness cameras have been switched off and

19 shrouded?

20 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Excuse me, sir, we have a problem with

21 the recording here. Can we stop for about five minutes,

22 please?

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. Will five minutes be enough?

24 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir. Thank you.

25 (10.28 am)

 

 

4

 

1 (Short adjournment)

2 (10.31 am)

3 THE CHAIRMAN: The checklist again, Mr Currans. Is the

4 public area screen fully in place, locked and the key

5 secured?

6 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

8 screen closed?

9 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

11 and securely fastened?

12 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

14 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

15 of this chamber?

16 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Can the video engineer please confirm that

18 the two witness cameras have been switched off and

19 shrouded?

20 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: All the other cameras have been switched off?

22 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they are.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

24 Bring the witness in, please.

25 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

 

 

5

 

1 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

2 switched back on.

3 Would you please take the oath?

4 A642 (sworn)

5 Questions by MR SAVILL

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

7 Yes, Mr Savill?

8 MR SAVILL: Thank you. Before we commence, can I just

9 remind you, at the risk of stating the obvious, that you

10 are a ciphered witness and you should have in front of

11 you a list with some names and ciphers on it.

12 A. I do, sir, yes.

13 Q. So just please give a brief thought before you mention

14 any names as to whether you should be looking at the

15 ciphered list.

16 A. Okay.

17 Q. You have given a statement to this Inquiry. Could we

18 call up RNI-840-154 (displayed)? That's the first page

19 of it. If we go to the last page of it, RNI-840-162

20 (displayed), we can see your cipher where your signature

21 should be and the date, 2 October 2007?

22 A. Yes, sir.

23 Q. Thank you. Could I ask you just to speak a little bit

24 more into the microphone so we can hear what you are

25 saying?

 

 

6

 

1 A. Sorry.

2 Q. That's fine. Thank you very much indeed.

3 At the moment, today, what is your role in the Army,

4 please?

5 A. I'm a senior analyst within the Intelligence Corps.

6 Q. Turn the clock back to 1999, you weren't in that role,

7 were you?

8 A. No, I was not. I was an infantry platoon sergeant on

9 attachment to 3 Royal Irish as a watchkeeper during

10 a short tour with that battalion during that period.

11 Q. How long had you been a watchkeeper in March 1999?

12 A. Not very long, although I can't remember exactly. But

13 it was only for a matter of weeks.

14 Q. I think if we look at the bottom of the first

15 paragraph -- there is probably no need to highlight

16 it -- in the last sentence, you say:

17 "I cannot recall precisely the date I commenced duty

18 as a watchkeeper, but it would when I finished my tour

19 of duty in Belfast in 1998."

20 A. That's correct, sir.

21 Q. So a matter of months, if that?

22 A. If that.

23 Q. I'm going to ask you what being a watchkeeper involved

24 in a moment, but before I do, was being a watchkeeper

25 a very technical, difficult job?

 

 

7

 

1 A. No, not at all, sir. It was a matter of the

2 responsibility for ensuring that any events that

3 occurred within that AOR, area of operations, was

4 recorded succinctly, and you were responsible to the

5 operations officer within the battalion headquarters.

6 Q. And we can see on your cipher list A660?

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. The operations officer. Now, again at the risk of

9 sounding rude, was your job anything more than making

10 a note of what was going on? Did you actually have any

11 discretion as to giving orders, making decisions?

12 A. Some discretion, although it was minor tactical

13 discretion that I was allowed to make in the ops room.

14 But I would have to seek guidance and clearance from the

15 operations officer or call him into the ops room if

16 there was a requirement for any subsequent taskings as

17 such.

18 Q. And did one have to be of a certain rank to be

19 a watchkeeper, or not?

20 A. Yes, sergeant was the minimum rank.

21 Q. Presumably that wasn't due to any qualifications, that

22 was just to make sure the person doing it had the

23 appropriate level of responsibility and experience in

24 the Army generally?

25 A. That is so, yes.

 

 

8

 

1 Q. And if we just read paragraph 3 of your statement, we

2 can see that you say this:

3 "As watchkeeper, I oversaw all operations and

4 tasking of patrols on the ground. Planned security

5 patrols took place on a daily basis, albeit they would

6 not run at the same time or use the same routes. In

7 addition, 3 Royal Irish Regiment patrols were ready and

8 taskable if an incident occurred. I was responsible for

9 providing assistance, for example, the provision of dogs

10 on military patrols, to the RUC where a request for such

11 assistance fell within 3 Royal Irish Regiment's

12 capability and the area of operations which I oversaw.

13 So, for example, 3 Royal Irish Regiment assistance was

14 provided to the Royal Ulster Constabulary in

15 particularly volatile areas or for soft target

16 protection, that is the protections of MPs, council

17 members or other identified targets."

18 A. That's correct, sir.

19 Q. You then go on to say:

20 "I reported directly to the operations officer,

21 A660."

22 You say in this paragraph of your statement that

23 there was typically only one other individual in the

24 room?

25 A. That's correct, sir.

 

 

9

 

1 Q. And so we keep track of this, that would be yourself,

2 the operations officer and the radio operator?

3 A. That's correct, sir.

4 Q. We have heard mentioned from A660 in his evidence of

5 a clerk and a sergeant major?

6 A. Yes, it is possible. I don't recall them being directly

7 involved in the ongoing daily routine of the operations

8 in the operations room. I think the sergeant major was

9 probably the ops warrant officer, who was the subsequent

10 command to the operations officer, although I didn't see

11 a great deal of him in at that time. I certainly can't

12 recall who it was, either.

13 Q. Would it be fair of me to summarise your position thus:

14 the core members of the room were yourself, the

15 watchkeeper, the radio operator, log keeper and the

16 operations officer?

17 A. That's correct, sir.

18 Q. Now, dealing just first of all with the radio operator,

19 what was his role as opposed to yours?

20 A. The radio operator's role, as far as I was concerned, is

21 primarily the responsibility for ensuring all radio

22 traffic that is reported across the operations network,

23 communications system, is logged, all traffic reported

24 by the patrols on the ground is logged and all movement

25 by any vehicle is logged in the radio operator's log,

 

 

10

 

1 that is reported across that radio network.

2 Q. Just so I understand it, the log created by the radio

3 operator was a direct report, if you like, of radio or

4 telephone communications, was it?

5 A. That's correct, sir.

6 Q. You mentioned the movement of vehicles. You would only

7 refer to that in his log when he received

8 a communication?

9 A. That's correct, sir.

10 Q. When you say "vehicles", do you mean airborne as well as

11 land-based?

12 A. Indeed, sir, yes. All type of vehicles that would

13 report to the operations room.

14 Q. So if there was a telephone call, a radio transmission,

15 a fax perhaps?

16 A. Perhaps, but I have never recalled a fax --

17 Q. No. Any of those communications, it was noted in the

18 radio log?

19 A. That's right, sir.

20 Q. Now, as far as your log was concerned, could you please

21 assist us by describing the way or the test, as it were,

22 for the contents to appear in it?

23 A. The watchkeeper's log was primarily responsible for

24 detailing any particular action that had been carried

25 out or incidents that had occurred into the

 

 

11

 

1 watchkeeper's log succinctly, clearly and stating that

2 event that had occurred through to its end. All other

3 vehicle movement and traffic would go into the radio

4 operator's log, which would keep the two logs completely

5 separate.

6 Q. Two questions down from that: first of all, what

7 discretion did you have to complete an entry? Were you

8 entirely able to decide what went in and what didn't, or

9 were you given an order, as it were, "Note that down",

10 by the operations officer?

11 A. That could have occurred and on occasions the operations

12 officer would make that position clear, that that should

13 go into the watchkeeper's log. But invariably it was

14 down to myself as the watchkeeper to ensure that any

15 vehicle movement or any action that was being carried

16 out on the ground would be reported correctly.

17 Q. What about in the air?

18 A. Likewise.

19 Q. Were there ever occasions -- because obviously you have

20 told us that you come to this job never having done it

21 before?

22 A. Correct.

23 Q. Were there occasions in your experience or that others

24 have told you, whereby someone might say to you, take

25 you to one side, "You didn't note this down. A word to

 

 

12

 

1 the wise, that's the sort of thing that we do put in

2 a log like this"?

3 A. I don't recall that ever occurring, but I would have

4 been briefed prior to those duties for the first time of

5 what the requirement was.

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. What the requirement of watchkeeper was and what

8 certainly needed to be inputted into the

9 watchkeeper's log.

10 Q. And the second thing I wanted to draw down from your

11 answer a moment ago is this: you have mentioned actions

12 and movements and, as it were, positives. What about

13 inaction or negative occurrences, where nothing was

14 going on? Was there a similar responsibility to note

15 that, if you understand me?

16 A. It would -- something would need to be reported to

17 indicate that there was a negative action being carried

18 out or a negative action to have occurred for it to have

19 been recorded, like -- I think -- I can't make it much

20 more clearer than that, I don't think.

21 Q. Let me try and help you. You have a period of time

22 where, thankfully, absolutely nothing was going on.

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. So do you just have a huge gap in your log between the

25 last event that is worthy of note and the next one, or

 

 

13

 

1 was it expected that there would be a note to the

2 effect, I don't know, on the hour or every two hours, so

3 and so has radioed in, all quiet?

4 A. Like I say, sir, if it was reported to me that it was

5 quiet and the event had come to completion, if you like,

6 then it would have been entered into the log.

7 Q. So that's very helpful. What you are saying is it

8 wasn't within your discretion to note down that nothing

9 was happening. You were noting down that nothing was

10 happening because someone was telling you that?

11 A. That's correct, sir.

12 Q. Now, again at the risk of stating the obvious, were you

13 the only person who would be completing the log during

14 your shift?

15 A. As a matter of rule, yes, sir.

16 Q. That's a guarded answer, if I may say so. As a matter

17 of rule. Tell me if it wasn't a matter of rule?

18 A. For instance, if I left the ops room to go to the

19 toilet, then the operations officer might enter into

20 something into the log, but I don't recall that ever

21 occurring whilst I was watchkeeper in Portadown.

22 Q. So the rule and, you would say, the reality was that you

23 were on a 12-hour shift, I think?

24 A. That's correct, sir.

25 Q. And obviously there had to be visits made to the

 

 

14

 

1 lavatory or perhaps, I don't know, nipping out to get

2 a cup of tea, for example. But by and large for those

3 12 hours it was your responsibility to be present in the

4 room and completing any entries in the log?

5 A. That's right, sir.

6 Q. Now, before you came on duty or before a watchkeeper,

7 a new watchkeeper, came on duty I think I'm right in

8 saying that there was a handover between the new person

9 and the person coming off shift?

10 A. That's correct, sir, yes.

11 Q. Tell us about that, please. Was that a quick handshake

12 and off you go, or was it a detailed experience?

13 A. It was quite comprehensive depending on what had taken

14 place during the day: Any incidents that had occurred,

15 any subsequent actions as a consequence of those

16 incidents that had occurred and what troops to task had

17 gone out of the normal planning matrix, patrol planning

18 matrix, as a consequence of any incidents that had

19 occurred during that shift.

20 So I would be fully briefed upon what had occurred

21 during the day and what was planned for the next

22 12 hours whilst I was on watch and what patrols were

23 going out into 3 Royal Irish's AOR.

24 Q. If you were the person going off shift, you would be

25 telling the next sergeant such and such has been going

 

 

15

 

1 on, these resources have been deployed in the following

2 way, we are waiting to hear back from so and so about

3 this incident, you might want to keep an eye on this

4 because it might be coming up?

5 A. That's correct, sir.

6 Q. Presumably this was all done with reference to the log

7 that the watchkeeper had been keeping that shift?

8 A. Absolutely. If it was incident actionable reporting

9 then the log would be used to refer to what had taken

10 place in the previous 12 hours. If it was to do with

11 any of the patrols that were due to go out, then it

12 would be referred to the patrol planning matrix that

13 would be available in the ops room.

14 Q. Tell me about how contemporaneous the watchkeeper's log

15 was, please?

16 A. In what respect, sir?

17 Q. Well, would you be able to say that every single entry

18 was completed at the time that you received the

19 information?

20 A. Yes, sir, that's a fairly accurate statement.

21 Q. Could we just call up the next page of RNI-840-156 and

22 highlight paragraph 7, please (displayed), we can see

23 that you say this:

24 "The watchkeeper's log was intended to be completed

25 contemporaneously with events. However, in practice if

 

 

16

 

1 a watchkeeper's attention was on a specific incident,

2 the log was completed as soon as it was possible to do

3 so afterwards. In such circumstance, I relied on the

4 radio operator to have been scribing ongoing

5 communications which I then used to check my own log

6 entries"?

7 A. That would be a very fluid incident that required the

8 full attention of the watchkeeper and the operations

9 officer in such circumstances where it wouldn't be quite

10 acceptable then and there to be able to get all the

11 information into the logbook. Very rarely would that

12 have occurred, though, sir.

13 Q. Thank you. Now, before we move on to have look at

14 a version of the log, how important would you say the

15 accuracy and the upkeep of the watchkeeper's log was?

16 A. It is very important, sir, yes. It gives you -- or

17 should give you a clear view of what events have

18 occurred in a chronological order of those events that

19 have occurred, accurately and, as I have mentioned

20 previously, succinctly and that is the reasoning for

21 that watchkeeper's log.

22 Q. Could we highlight the last paragraph on that page,

23 please? Looking at the last two lines, you say this:

24 "The watchkeeper would make whatever entry was

25 appropriate to convey a true and accurate record."

 

 

17

 

1 I don't think it was his word; it was mine. But

2 A660 agreed with me when I asked him that really the

3 watchkeeper's log was really the touchstone for the

4 operations room, but it was just exactly what it was

5 meant to be, an accurate up-to-date record that any time

6 someone could consult it and see either what had been

7 going on or what was going on at that time?

8 A. That's correct, sir.

9 Q. I'm going to ask for a document to be called up which

10 you will have seen before, RNI-833-119 (displayed).

11 Now, this, I hope, doesn't take you by surprise at all

12 because that is what we have been talking about, isn't?

13 A. It is indeed, sir.

14 Q. I think we are all very familiar with it by now, but

15 just so we can, as it were, refresh our memories, we

16 have 3 Royal Irish in the top left-hand corner and we

17 can see very faintly in the top let, "log sheet". In

18 the middle of the page we have got "sergeant

19 [redacted]", the name there. That's the person

20 completing the log?

21 A. Yes, sir.

22 Q. And the date of 14 March 1999?

23 A. Yes, sir.

24 Q. And the page number on the right-hand side for that

25 date, is it, 101?

 

 

18

 

1 A. That's correct, sir.

2 Q. And as we go down the left-hand column, as we all know

3 we have got the serial numbers which separate the

4 separate events?

5 A. Yes, sir.

6 Q. This is, as I say, for 14 March and we can see that not

7 surprisingly that starts at one minute past midnight and

8 we can see:

9 "Sergeant [blank] opened log."

10 Yes?

11 A. Yes, sir.

12 Q. I'm not going to go through the entries on this page, so

13 can we just turn over the next page, please, RNI-833-120

14 (displayed). We need to flip it round. We can see,

15 just going down the page, that we are moving into the

16 afternoon, 13.36 hours, 13.45, 13, I think it is, 57 and

17 these are messages coming into the ops room; yes?

18 A. That's right, sir.

19 Q. Then we have a gap and between 13.57 and 17.25, a number

20 of hours?

21 A. Yes, sir.

22 Q. And then at the bottom of the page, at 18.00 hours, we

23 have Sergeant A642, which is you, on duty?

24 A. Yes, sir.

25 Q. Yes?

 

 

19

 

1 A. Yes, sir.

2 Q. Now, at that stage there is -- and we will come to this

3 in a moment -- I think you are familiar with it -- no

4 line or shading drawn between two different shifts, is

5 there?

6 A. There is not, no.

7 Q. Was that a matter of custom and practice depending on

8 which sergeant was completing it?

9 A. To be quite honest, I don't recall.

10 Q. I mean, obviously it wasn't your practice to do that

11 because we can see that's your handwriting, is it?

12 A. It is indeed, yes, sir.

13 Q. You haven't seen fit to shade or to draw a line?

14 A. No.

15 Q. No. But is it your experience that some sergeants did

16 do that?

17 A. To be quite honest, I can't recall unless you were to

18 show me an example.

19 Q. Well, I, if you will forgive me, will do so but not just

20 at the moment.

21 A. Okay.

22 Q. We will come back to that. But here we have you coming

23 on duty, for the civilians amongst us, at 6 pm; yes?

24 A. That's correct, sir.

25 Q. Could we go over the page again, please? We have got

 

 

20

 

1 page 3 and we start moving through 6 pm, and at the

2 bottom of the page after 7 pm, and if we look at entry

3 14 -- and, again, this is your handwriting, is it?

4 A. That is indeed, sir, yes.

5 Q. We have got a message into the ops room from the RUC

6 Lurgan and RUC Lurgan called:

7 "Locals in the area and confirm details of the

8 suspect package is a plastic container approximately

9 8 inches, black tape with wires coming off it."

10 I'm not going to get into the detail of these

11 events, but you may recall, I suspect, what was going on

12 by looking at the log here: a suspect package?

13 A. That's correct, sir.

14 Q. And we can see in the action column to the right of the

15 page, that it says, I think:

16 "GAZ ..."

17 A. That's right, sir.

18 Q. "... informed."

19 Yes?

20 A. Correct, sir.

21 Q. And various other people and organisations are informed.

22 What does GAZ mean?

23 A. Gazelle.

24 Q. That's not Gazelle 4 or 6; that is Gazelle?

25 A. Yes, that's correct, sir.

 

 

21

 

1 Q. What does that mean, that it doesn't distinguish a

2 particular Gazelle unit?

3 A. It doesn't, sir, and I wouldn't be able to recall as to

4 whether or not that was a phone call to Aldergrove

5 control or to a Gazelle that was flying at the time.

6 Q. But it is probable, is it, that that entry indicates

7 that you were not aware of which particular Gazelle unit

8 you were either dealing with or about to deal with?

9 A. That's correct, sir.

10 Q. Then if we look at the next entry, we have GAZ4?

11 A. That's correct, sir.

12 Q. And this is from Gazelle 4:

13 "Large crowds in Kilwilke Estate. Group of 15 to 20

14 torched a vehicle in the wasteland next to the community

15 centre."

16 And you say in the action column that:

17 "The RUC and the ops officer informed."

18 And then we see at the bottom of the page another

19 entry from Gazelle. So we can get a flavour of the sort

20 of things that you are entering into the log, namely

21 communications you are receiving from the outside?

22 A. That's right, sir.

23 Q. Now, just before I move on, can I just ask you to assist

24 us with this, namely the allocation of helicopters; yes?

25 A. Yes, sir.

 

 

22

 

1 Q. You are sat in your operations room; yes?

2 A. That's correct, sir.

3 Q. And there is a need for a helicopter?

4 A. Okay.

5 Q. A reaction. You say, "We need a helicopter". How would

6 you go about arranging that?

7 A. In an incident like this, where a disturbance had

8 occurred and there was a requirement by the police to

9 provide an overview of that area, then the immediate

10 task would be to speak directly to the brigade ops room

11 and request, if it wasn't already on our planning

12 matrix, for a helicopter to be in our area of

13 operations, to request one from brigade, to assist in

14 providing the overwatch of the area in question. So we

15 would go directly to the brigade ops room.

16 Q. Just pausing there, I'm right in saying, am I, that the

17 subsequent decision (a) whether to grant the request,

18 and (b) which helicopter would come and do the job for

19 you, was not within your gift?

20 A. No, absolutely not, sir.

21 Q. Can I just try and help you -- I'm not sure if we can

22 have them both to the screen because they are both

23 horizontal, but let's call up RNI-406-328 (displayed).

24 Now, this, I very much hope, is the brigade log?

25 A. Okay, sir.

 

 

23

 

1 Q. I don't know whether you have seen this -- I'm sorry,

2 I know you have seen this, but would you have seen this

3 prior to your involvement with the Inquiry? Would it be

4 the sort of document you would ever have seen?

5 A. Absolutely not, sir.

6 Q. Let's just take a moment. I'm not starting at the

7 beginning, as it were, of the day, but this is the next

8 page, sheet 2, we can see, top right-hand corner:

9 "Log sheet, HQ3 Inf Brigade. Watchkeeper: Captain

10 [blank] 14 to 15 March."

11 Now, if we just look at serial 12, we can see the

12 time, 17.32, from 3R Irish, yourself?

13 A. Yes, sir.

14 Q. And I will just read it:

15 "There has been a bomb warning in Lurgan. At 17.11

16 a UK M phoned the Samaritans. He stated he was from the

17 UVF and that there was a bomb in Lake Street in Lurgan.

18 No code word was given. 3 Royal Irish assessed this to

19 be a come on for agro ..."

20 And this is the portion that I think will help you:

21 "... and request an overflight before any ground

22 deployment."

23 So that was what you were meaning when you say you

24 would make the request?

25 A. Absolutely, sir.

 

 

24

 

1 Q. We then have time, 17.40, from 3rd Brigade:

2 "GZ6 changing over until 18.00 hours. Therefore,

3 GZ4, if available, should do the overflight of Lake

4 Street, Lurgan."

5 A. Right sir.

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. So you haven't, obviously, as you have told us, much

9 experience of this document, but that would seem the

10 message that was given from brigade in response to the

11 request; yes?

12 A. It would, sir, yes.

13 Q. And at 18.00 hours, just to take it to the hour, we have

14 a sit rep from HQ Northern Ireland:

15 "Nothing to report"?

16 A. That's right, sir.

17 Q. We may come back to this document but that helps to

18 illustrate the point that you would make the request to

19 brigade; yes?

20 A. Indeed, sir.

21 Q. So I then asked you whether or not you had any input as

22 to whether the request was granted or, indeed, which

23 helicopter was granted permission to come and help. You

24 say you weren't given any authority in that regard. Did

25 you yourself ever have any involvement with the crew of

 

 

25

 

1 the helicopter, when they may have landed or come to the

2 operations room? Was that not your --

3 A. Not normally, no, sir. But there were occasions when

4 the helicopter crew might come into the ops room on

5 request from the operations officer so that he could

6 give them a brief on a particular task that was required

7 of them. And my only recollection of that event that

8 occurred like that would be during Drumcree and the

9 riots that were -- took place during that period there,

10 where a Gazelle would be forward mounted to Portadown

11 and the crew would be briefed by the operations officer.

12 Q. Thank you. Now, I'm obviously going to go in due course

13 to ask you some questions about the day that we have

14 looked at, 14/15 March. Am I right in saying that your

15 recollection of that sitting there today, using purely

16 your memory, is not very good?

17 A. Very so, sir.

18 Q. Right. We will have to rely on some documents, but

19 I just want us to be clear that what you may tell us is

20 not necessarily what you actually recollect today. Is

21 that fair?

22 A. That's fair to say, sir, yes.

23 Q. Yes. Now, as far as liaison officers were concerned

24 that may have gone up in Gazelle helicopters, did you

25 have any choice or input into which liaison officer

 

 

26

 

1 went up?

2 A. Not at all, sir, that was part of planning matrix for

3 which QRF, quick reaction force, would be part of the

4 planning matrix, the patrol planning matrix.

5 Q. Sorry, even if there was an incident that arose in

6 a matter of minutes, by definition the quick reaction

7 force would provide the LO that was assigned at that

8 time to do the job?

9 A. That's correct, sir.

10 Q. Did you, as a matter of interest, know A645 at the time?

11 A. No, I didn't and I don't know him now, sir.

12 Q. You have told us about a matrix. Could we call up

13 RNI-512-037 (displayed)? You may not necessarily be

14 able to help as much as other witnesses with this. Do

15 you recall seeing this type of document in your job?

16 A. I do recall seeing it, sir, yes, because it was part of

17 the brief that I would receive with regard to my shift

18 and what patrols were to be doing over a 12-hour period.

19 So I would have some sight of it and only for reference,

20 for then marking up the map board.

21 Q. And which was the main area you were concerned with,

22 looking at this?

23 A. Both the Lurgan and Portadown subdivisions.

24 Q. Yes. Because we can see it is the operational task

25 forecast for Sunday, 14 March. We have dealt with the

 

 

27

 

1 reaction quickly and provision of the helicopter, but

2 you mentioned a matrix. Looking at the bottom of the

3 page, there is five lines "surge decoy". Do you see

4 that?

5 A. I do, sir, yes.

6 Q. To the right of that we have got "AVN", which I think is

7 aviation.

8 A. That's correct.

9 Q. "Finch 12.30 to 00.30."

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Tell us what Finch is, please?

12 A. I'm trying to recollect. I am afraid I don't know what

13 Finch is.

14 Q. Would it jog your memory if its helicopters with thermal

15 imaging cameras?

16 A. I thought it was that but I didn't want to speculate.

17 Q. We can see -- we've already looked at this document --

18 MBP stations. These are the tasks for at that

19 helicopter?

20 A. That's correct, sir.

21 Q. Can you tell us what those mean, MBP?

22 A. Yes, mortar based plates of those stations, RFL,

23 Rathfriland, I believe, Banbridge town centre.

24 Q. So is this an illustration on this page of what you mean

25 by the matrix, the pre-assigning of an airborne

 

 

28

 

1 resource?

2 A. It would be, sir, yes.

3 Q. On and for this date?

4 A. Yes, sir.

5 Q. For a specific role?

6 A. That's right, sir.

7 Q. How unusual was it for such a resource as this, putting

8 it in a nutshell, being told on the matrix, "You are

9 going to be doing this on this day", to be dragged away

10 to do something completely different?

11 A. In the history of Northern Ireland, sir, not very

12 unusual. Aviation was frequently tasked, retasked,

13 taking off the primary task that it had of supporting

14 one unit to go and provide oversight, overwatch, in

15 another area for where there were -- or was an incident

16 occurring.

17 Q. Now, could we go back to RNI-833-122, please

18 (displayed)? You can see there -- I think we have

19 looked at this page or perhaps the previous page --

20 entry 19, 20.20 hours. We have got from GAZ4 LO, which

21 is the liaison officer?

22 A. That's correct, sir.

23 Q. I'm not going to read it out but we can see the entry

24 there relating to events on the ground. Before I turn

25 over the page, can I just ask you: there don't seem to

 

 

29

 

1 be many or as many entries in the log noting from you,

2 from the ops office, to other people. Do you understand

3 me? There are mainly entries for communications coming

4 into the operations room. Is there any particular

5 reason for that?

6 A. I honestly don't recall. I mean, I could give --

7 possibly the operations officer was in the ops room at

8 the time and may have rang the brigade ops room himself

9 or rang the police at Lurgan himself and spoke to them.

10 Q. But do you follow my point?

11 A. I do, yes.

12 Q. The list is mainly of information coming in. "We are

13 being told this", not, "We are telling people that". Do

14 you follow me.

15 A. I do, sir, yes. I have no explanation for it.

16 Potentially it could have been that it was reported by

17 the operations officer whilst he was in the ops room to

18 people like the RUC, to the brigade. It depended on

19 what was in that traffic, if it was of any significance

20 to report back, in which case it was.

21 Q. Now, if we turn over the page, we go forward a little

22 way in time, just over an hour and a half, to

23 22.00 hours and, again, we have got information from the

24 RUC Portadown; yes?

25 A. That's correct, sir.

 

 

30

 

1 Q. Now, we then come to the issue that I want to explore

2 with you in a little detail, I am afraid, which is the

3 next entry, entry 21, 2359 hours.

4 Now, just taking it in stages, that obviously is not

5 your handwriting?

6 A. That's not, sir, no.

7 Q. And if we then go over the page once again, we can

8 see -- we are starting a new day; yes?

9 A. That's correct, sir.

10 Q. You are still getting a mention at the top of the page,

11 Sergeant A642.

12 A. Correct, sir.

13 Q. One minute past midnight, the log is opened. At 7 in

14 the morning, Sergeant 175 is "on duty"; yes?

15 A. Correct, sir.

16 Q. Then we go forward three and a half hours to the next

17 entry, which is completed by A175; yes?

18 A. Yes, sir.

19 Q. Now, go back to the previous page, please, RNI-833-123

20 (displayed). This is an example of the point that

21 cruelly I refused to let you see earlier, where there is

22 a line drawn down the page?

23 A. Correct, sir.

24 Q. And that's the example you wanted to see and I'm showing

25 it to you.

 

 

31

 

1 Was it your experience that sergeants taking over

2 drew a line down the rest of the day's page, obviously

3 so that no more entries could be put in, or was it left

4 blank?

5 A. I don't think, to be perfectly honest, sir, that it made

6 very little difference. If the log was closed and the

7 next entry stated the log was open, then it stated the

8 fact and there is no real requirement for that page to

9 be completely lined through like that.

10 Q. And we can see, again at the risk of stating the

11 obvious, that that log was not closed yourself but by

12 somebody else?

13 A. That's correct, sir.

14 Q. And, indeed, that person also opens the log at one

15 minute past midnight, although that person is not on

16 duty technically until 07.00 hours?

17 A. That's correct, sir.

18 Q. If Sergeant 175 was on duty at 07.00 hours, as you told

19 us, there will have been this detailed briefing?

20 A. That's correct, sir.

21 Q. The handover. So you would have been watching the

22 clock, as it were, to expect your relief to arrive at,

23 what, 6.15, 6.30 something, like that?

24 A. Around that time, sir, yes.

25 Q. When Sergeant 175 would come into the operations room.

 

 

32

 

1 You would breathe a sigh of relief because it was nearly

2 time to go to bed having been up all the night?

3 A. Indeed, sir.

4 Q. But there would be the formality of handing over; yes?

5 A. Yes, sir.

6 Q. Now, I'll ask you this question bluntly: why is the log

7 closed and opened by A175 and not you?

8 A. The only explanation I can give for that, sir, is that

9 it is a fault of my own for not closing the log down and

10 clearly stating that I was handing over to the next

11 watchkeeper, and that is somewhat of a dereliction of

12 the watchkeeper's duty.

13 Q. Please understand me, I hope, that I have to ask you

14 these questions.

15 A. Sure.

16 Q. I'm not seeking to apportion blame. It is very honest

17 and straightforward for you to admit that it is your

18 fault, but let me just ask you one or two questions as

19 to how that fault may have come about because if, as you

20 told us, there was a briefing, a detailed briefing

21 taking something like half an hour; yes?

22 A. Yes, sir.

23 Q. Surely during the course of that briefing -- and we have

24 already discussed how you would have referred back to

25 the log in order to brief the next man on -- either you

 

 

33

 

1 or Sergeant A175 would have said, "Hold on a minute, you

2 or I haven't closed the log" and you would have said,

3 "Oh, okay, I'll just close it"?

4 A. That's correct.

5 Q. Or, indeed, if Sergeant A175 had said, "Look, you

6 haven't closed the log, I'll close it", you would have

7 said, "No, hang on a minute, that's my job because I'm

8 the man on duty".

9 So thank you for telling us that it is your fault,

10 but what I really want you to try and assist us with is

11 how that came about?

12 A. I have absolutely no idea, to be perfectly honest with

13 you, sir.

14 Q. Do you see the point I'm making?

15 A. I do see the point you are making, but -- and I have no

16 explanation for it. It was a dereliction of my duty as

17 the watchkeeper in the ops room at the time.

18 Q. Again, obviously bearing in mind the position you find

19 yourself in, giving evidence to the Inquiry, let me just

20 make a suggestion to you that may or may not be of

21 assistance: was it ever the case that people would cut

22 corners and finish their shift early?

23 A. No, not in the time that I was in that ops room, sir.

24 Q. You are absolutely certain about that?

25 A. I never finished my duty early whilst I was with

 

 

34

 

1 3 Royal Irish.

2 Q. Because you would agree with me, wouldn't you, that that

3 would provide an explanation not only as to why you

4 didn't complete the log but why the next man,

5 Sergeant A175, did?

6 A. As a possible, feasible explanation, but that did not

7 occur whilst I was with 3 Royal Irish.

8 Q. So that wasn't the reason why A175 completed it; yes?

9 A. That's correct, sir.

10 Q. And why he indeed opened it, because that's a slightly

11 separate issue, isn't it, because not only did you fail

12 to complete it, you didn't open it?

13 A. That's correct, sir.

14 Q. So I'm not going to labour the point, but you are at

15 a loss to explain to us today as to how that came about,

16 are you?

17 A. Absolutely, sir. It was a long time ago. It was

18 a serious dereliction of my duties as the watchkeeper to

19 have not closed the log down and to have signed it off

20 to the next watchkeeper as he came on, and I have no

21 explanation for it.

22 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just come in?

23 MR SAVILL: Certainly.

24 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: A 12-hour shift is a long time and

25 I think there is a sort of an understanding in the Army

 

 

35

 

1 that if you are not busy, you eat or you sleep?

2 A. Indeed, sir.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Is there any possibility, do you think,

4 that during this quiet period you and the radio operator

5 perhaps took the opportunity, about turn, to relax

6 somewhat?

7 A. No, I don't believe so, sir. I think that the magnitude

8 of the incompetence that occurred during that period was

9 what you have seen there. But as regard to my

10 professional bearing and standard as the watchkeeper,

11 that is as far as my incompetence went.

12 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you.

13 MR SAVILL: Before I --

14 THE CHAIRMAN: How big a room was it, this ops room?

15 A. How big a room, sir?

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

17 A. Not exceptionally big. Perhaps the size of the back

18 wall there, which would have the maps -- map board.

19 MR SAVILL: Just for the transcript -- I'm sorry to

20 interrupt you -- you are indicating the wall behind me,

21 counsel?

22 A. Indeed, sir, yes.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

24 A. And no further forward than the QC speaking now, sir, in

25 which case you would have the desks right in front of

 

 

36

 

1 the map board and you would be tracking movement in the

2 ops room.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Now, were there bunks or anything where one

4 could have a kip in the ops room?

5 A. Absolutely not, sir, wishful thinking as it may be.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Were ordinary radios or televisions in the

7 room?

8 A. I don't recall there being a television in the ops room

9 there, but of late I do see televisions in ops rooms

10 more frequently now.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. I mean, nowadays do people in ops rooms

12 sort of watch Match of the Day if nothing is going on?

13 A. No, I don't think it goes quite as far as that, sir.

14 The news is about as much as you are allowed to watch in

15 the ops room.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: I see. That's standing orders, is it?

17 A. Indeed it is, sir, yes.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, I see. I mean, if nothing happens hour

19 after hour, what do you do? Do you play draughts with

20 the radio operator, or what?

21 A. You would have a book and that was about as much as you

22 got, sir.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Yes?

24 A. If I can just put it into perspective, in that respect

25 you have had rest prior to going on duty. So a 12-hour

 

 

37

 

1 shift during the night, although it might sound somewhat

2 a difficult task to remain awake, it is not because you

3 would have slept during the day and you would have been

4 on watch for that period for about five days. So your

5 shift will be five days of nights and then you will

6 change and go back on to days. So it is not an arduous

7 task. You will have sleep and plenty of it in order to

8 be able to stay awake for that 12 hours during the

9 night.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: As the watchkeeper, are you wearing

11 headphones or not?

12 A. No, not the watchkeeper.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Just the radio operator, or not?

14 A. I honestly can't remember, but in this day and age the

15 radio operator does wear a headset, but I can't recall

16 if this was the case then.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Yes?

18 MR SAVILL: Thank you. I was going to just ask you, before

19 we moved on to a slightly different topic: there is this

20 gap between 10 pm and midnight; yes?

21 A. Yes, sir.

22 Q. Are you able to recollect whether the omission of any

23 entries in that time was either part of this oversight

24 on your part or in fact that's because nothing was

25 going on?

 

 

38

 

1 A. Just to clarify that exactly, sir, there was nothing

2 that occurred during that period.

3 Q. You can remember that, can you?

4 A. No, I can't remember, but if there were something to

5 have to been entered into the log, it would have been

6 entered. And as I have stated there, the degree of

7 incompetence is only down to not closing the log and not

8 signing it off to the next watchkeeper.

9 Q. That is what I wondered, and I don't want to make a meal

10 of this, but if you will forgive me for being blunt, you

11 made one mistake, isn't it possible that you made

12 another mistake by failing to make entries that you

13 should have done?

14 A. Absolutely not.

15 Q. How can you be so categoric?

16 A. Because I am very confident of my own abilities and just

17 a simple error of not closing the log and not signing it

18 over is the degree of -- how can I put it?

19 Q. The extent of your failure?

20 A. The extent -- and I don't see it as being a massive

21 extent of failure. If there was entries to be entered

22 into the log, they would have been entered.

23 Q. But if you are -- forgive me, I'll just, if you like,

24 ask you -- have one more go at this. If you are able to

25 make the mistake of not closing the log, yes, is that

 

 

39

 

1 not very similar to failing to make an entry? If, for

2 example, the reason for you not closing the log was you

3 were out of the room or you forgot to do it, whatever

4 the reason was, wouldn't that reason be equally

5 applicable and explain why no entries were made when

6 they should have been?

7 A. No, I don't see it like that, sir, I am afraid. If

8 there was a requirement to enter any action that had

9 occurred on the ground, any incident that had occurred,

10 request for assistance by the RUC, which required to be

11 detailed in the log, it would have been entered.

12 Q. What about a report from a helicopter that a situation

13 that the helicopter had been sent to survey was all

14 quiet?

15 A. That would have been detailed, I suspect, in the radio

16 operator's log, as opposed to the watchkeeper's log.

17 Q. But I understood you to say earlier, when we discussed

18 this, that that was the type of thing that would go into

19 the log: a report coming in that things were quiet?

20 A. Possibly to put to an end, or succinctly for the purpose

21 of bringing a record of events to completion.

22 Q. That's what I mean. I'm not talking about a helicopter

23 flying over Northern Ireland feeling the urge to radio

24 you and say, "By the way, we're looking down on the

25 ground, there's not very much going on", but

 

 

40

 

1 a helicopter that had been subject to look at something,

2 reporting back all quiet. That should go in the log,

3 shouldn't it?

4 A. For the purpose of completion of the record of event,

5 then, yes, I would agree.

6 Q. Let's have a look at RNI-833-130 (displayed). Again, so

7 we are clear, it is nothing to do with you, this. It is

8 not your handwriting, it's a Colour Sergeant [blank] and

9 we can see a line is drawn down the page, as I mentioned

10 previously, 12 March, the entry serial number 42. I

11 can't quite read it, but I think it is 23.53 hours to

12 zero; yes?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Who is that?

15 A. That would be the ops room 3 Royal Irish at Portadown.

16 Q. Yes, from Gazelle 6, GZ6?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. "All areas at Drumcree now quiet"?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. So that's the type of entry I'm talking about?

21 A. Yes, it is perfectly feasible.

22 Q. Now, just moving on to Gazelle 6 and the evening in

23 question, you are aware, I know, that we are interested

24 in a flight made by Gazelle 6 late in the evening of

25 14 March, between roughly 11.30 and midnight?

 

 

41

 

1 A. Yes, sir.

2 Q. Now, there is no entry about that in the log at all.

3 I mean, we should probably go back to the page that we

4 had up there, which was RNI-833-123 (displayed). So

5 there is no entry along the lines of please could

6 Gazelle 6 come and do this or a Gazelle, or Gazelle 6 is

7 coming to do this for the following reasons, Gazelle 6

8 is now in this place and sees this or doesn't see this,

9 those sorts of entries. None of that?

10 A. No, sir.

11 Q. So there is a complete blank as to the activities of

12 Gazelle 6; yes?

13 A. Yes, sir.

14 Q. Now, you have obviously told me earlier that you don't

15 have any specific recollection of this, so we have got

16 two source documents. One is your statement made to the

17 police Murder Investigation Team on 29 February 2000?

18 A. Yes, sir.

19 Q. Which I will show you in a moment. And also your

20 statement to this Inquiry?

21 A. Yes, sir.

22 Q. So let's call up, please, RNI-833-131 (displayed). Can

23 we highlight all of that, please? Now, that's your

24 statement, A642. I'm not going to read the whole thing,

25 but the first line says:

 

 

42

 

1 "I am Army sergeant first battalion Staffordshire

2 Regiment currently posted to the Army Careers Office in

3 Wolverhampton."

4 That was you at the time?

5 A. It was.

6 Q. 29 February. If we go down the page, we can see in the

7 middle of it, Captain A252; yes?

8 A. Yes, sir.

9 Q. If we count up six lines to the word "debrief", do you

10 have that?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. To the right of that is a full stop:

13 "My last entry ..."

14 A. Yes, sir.

15 Q. So I'm just going to read that out:

16 "My last entry in the log for 14 March 1999 was at

17 22.00 hours. However, I recall a later overflight of

18 the Lurgan area by a helicopter. This helicopter'd

19 tasking would have been a continuation of the

20 Gazelle 4's previous tasking. I cannot recall how the

21 aircraft was tasked, but I believe it would have been

22 either through telephone calls between 3 Brigade

23 operations and JATOC ..."

24 What does that stand for?

25 A. The joint air tasking operations centre. I think that

 

 

43

 

1 is Aldergrove, as it was called then.

2 Q. Thank you:

3 "... or a direct request from Captain A252, the

4 operations officer, to continue the original tasking.

5 As far as I remember there was nothing to report from

6 that overflight. There was no reason for me not to have

7 put an entry in the log regarding the tasking of the

8 overflight. The reason for me not making an entry in

9 the log could have been an oversight. Because of the

10 lack of activity in Lurgan and the tasking of the

11 helicopter occurring at that time of night when I have

12 to prepare reports to be sent to 3 Brigade watchkeeper,

13 I forgot to make an entry."

14 Now, you will know what I'm going to ask you. This

15 was a statement you made in February 2000, so -- well,

16 I hate to say it, but nearly nine years ago?

17 A. Indeed, sir.

18 Q. But about a year, just under, after the murder of

19 Mrs Nelson, so nearer to the events contained within the

20 statement. You have told us today, "Absolutely no

21 question, I don't make mistakes about missing things out

22 of a log"?

23 A. Indeed, SIR.

24 Q. In a statement that you signed, gave to the police, in

25 a murder investigation, you say, "Actually I think the

 

 

44

 

1 reason for it was I forgot, I made an oversight". So

2 could you just please tell the Panel how we can

3 reconcile your two versions or accounts?

4 A. I simply believe that the events that were reported by

5 that Gazelle helicopter overflight later in the evening,

6 they didn't report any activity at all and stated that

7 it was quiet. There was no requirement for me at that

8 time to put anything into the log, although clearly for

9 the purpose of an end state of a continuation of the

10 report into clearly state that what had occurred, it

11 would have been better to see that it was quiet and that

12 an end to all of that incident that had occurred earlier

13 in the evening. It would have made for a better record

14 of events. But there is no absolute requirement to

15 state in there that that helicopter reported it being

16 quiet or a helicopter was on task over the area.

17 Q. So why is there one account, "It was a mistake", in

18 a statement given in February 2000 and today an account

19 given, "I don't make mistakes, there was nothing to

20 record"?

21 A. I don't believe it was a mistake that I made there.

22 Q. An oversight then?

23 A. Or an oversight. I think it was just for the purpose of

24 a contemporaneous record of events. It could have been

25 placed into the record -- into the log, but it was all

 

 

45

 

1 quiet, reported by the Gazelle. But there was no

2 absolute requirement for it to be in there.

3 Q. So you are telling us today there was nothing to put in,

4 so you didn't put it in?

5 A. Absolutely, sir.

6 Q. But in your statement, don't you accept that. You say

7 the reason for it could have been an oversight?

8 A. That's one way --

9 Q. They are two difference things, aren't they?

10 A. That is one way of looking at it, sir. If you wish to

11 make it an oversight, that I didn't put into log that it

12 was all quiet and reported by the Gazelle that could

13 have given a full record of events, then I'll accept

14 that, that it was an oversight. But I don't feel

15 genuinely that there was absolute requirement to put it

16 into the log; "It is all quiet" reported from the

17 Gazelle.

18 Q. Please understand it is not a question of what I want to

19 make it, it is a question of what your answer is, what

20 your evidence is to the question: why is there nothing

21 in the log?

22 A. I don't see it as being that significant an issue.

23 Q. Forgive me for interrupting you, that's an entirely

24 different point. I'm simply asking to you reconcile

25 oversight on the one hand -- there was something that

 

 

46

 

1 should have gone in the log, but I didn't put it in --

2 and on the other there wasn't anything worthy of note,

3 and that's why it didn't go in?

4 A. That's the point that I'm making, sir, that there was

5 nothing worthy of reporting to go into the log. So it

6 wasn't put into the log.

7 Q. Right. That's what you are telling us today?

8 A. Yes, sir.

9 Q. As far as what this flight was all about -- yes?

10 A. Yes, sir.

11 Q. -- is concerned, you tell us in this statement to the

12 police that you recall:

13 "... a later overflight of the Lurgan area by

14 a helicopter. This helicopter's tasking would have been

15 a continuation of the Gazelle 6's previous tasking."

16 A. That was my belief, sir, yes.

17 Q. Yes?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Now, if we could just call up on the same page

20 RNI-840-160, please (displayed). This is your statement

21 to the Inquiry. Can we highlight paragraph 24. Now,

22 I'm not going to read the italicised portion because

23 that is the bit we have just been looking at in your

24 statement to the police:

25 "I then go on to state ..."

 

 

47

 

1 It is quoting from your police statement. You then

2 say:

3 "I confirm that the QRF Commander came to the

4 Operations Room to debrief me and to check the log.

5 Reference to such a visit would not necessarily be

6 entered into my log but would have been reflected by an

7 entry in the Radio Operator's log. As I have stated,

8 there was no need for me to enter such detail in the

9 Watchkeeper's log. I believe my reference to the

10 continued tasking of Gazelle 4 meant that the window for

11 helicopter support was still open, i.e. the helicopter

12 still had fuel and had not been called to another

13 tasking, so we would have kept it on task to ensure the

14 area was quiet. Helicopters are a valuable asset so we

15 would not have just let it go. I believe that the

16 reason why I did not record this later flight in the

17 Watchkeeper's log was that the Gazelle 4 was continuing

18 with an ongoing task from earlier in the evening while

19 under operational control of 3 Royal Irish regiment."

20 Yes?

21 A. Yes, sir.

22 Q. Slightly different point here. We are in danger of

23 getting our Gazelles mixed up. What you say in this

24 paragraph to the Inquiry -- and this is me interpreting

25 it -- suggests that it was a continuation of a task by

 

 

48

 

1 Gazelle 4?

2 A. Yes, sir.

3 Q. In your statement to the police, it is subtle but

4 I think there is a slight difference. You say just five

5 lines up from that Captain A252:

6 "However, I recall a later overflight of the Lurgan

7 area by a helicopter. This helicopter's tasking would

8 have been a continuation of Gazelle 4's previous

9 tasking."

10 Yes?

11 A. That's correct, sir.

12 Q. So you have got two things to assist you in giving an

13 answer to the next question. You have got your memory?

14 A. Yes, sir.

15 Q. Which you say is not worth relying on, and secondly, you

16 have got your statement to the police team on the

17 left-hand side of the page. So what is, please, your

18 answer to this? Was the continuation, as it were, that

19 didn't merit a note by Gazelle 4 or by Gazelle 6?

20 A. My understanding now was that it was Gazelle 6 that

21 carried out that later continuation of the task to

22 determine that this was all quiet in the Kilwilke Estate

23 that evening.

24 Q. Okay. Thank you. Why, as it were, sitting here, do you

25 say now "it is my understanding", what is it that has

 

 

49

 

1 made you realise or record that it is Gazelle 6?

2 A. It is only through the evidence that has been presented

3 to me and I have re-read in order to determine which

4 helicopter --

5 Q. You mean the statement on the left, do you?

6 A. Yes, sir.

7 Q. So it was continuation of a task but by a different

8 helicopter; yes?

9 A. That is my belief, sir, yes.

10 Q. I am afraid, therefore, I want to go back to the

11 omission in the log. Would it not have been worthy of

12 note in the log that it was a different Gazelle coming

13 on stream to continue a task that had been started by

14 another helicopter?

15 A. No, I don't believe so, sir.

16 Q. Why not?

17 A. That's the kind of traffic -- if he was to put that kind

18 of traffic into the watchkeeper's log then I would be

19 replicating everything that the radio operator log is

20 there for and there is no requirement for that. The

21 radio operator's log details all of the traffic that is

22 reported, of every vehicle movement. There is no

23 requirement for me to be that detailed with movement and

24 different aircraft that is responsible for providing

25 overwatch or whatever task that it is carrying out.

 

 

50

 

1 Q. Before we look at the radio log -- again, I'm sorry

2 I have to ask you this again: Gazelle 6 was continuing

3 and, one would presume, concluding a task that

4 a previous helicopter had been assigned to?

5 A. That's correct, sir.

6 Q. So, again, message from Gazelle 6, "We have done the

7 job, the situation is normal, all quiet." Surely that

8 would have been (a) an expected input into your

9 operations room from the helicopter, and (b) an input

10 that was worthy of note into your log?

11 A. It was certainly worthy of note and I accept that

12 clearly for the purposes, as I have mentioned

13 previously, for stating the end of a set of

14 circumstances surrounding an incident earlier in the

15 evening, that that had now come to its conclusion would

16 have made sense to have gone into the log, but it didn't

17 necessarily have to go into the log.

18 Q. I want to be entirely fair to you, I'm not able to say

19 to you, "That is what happened and you didn't note it".

20 Do you understand?

21 A. Right.

22 Q. What I'm asking you is were that communication to have

23 come in to you, it was the sort of thing that would have

24 gone into the log, wasn't it?

25 A. I'll accept, yes, it is the sort of thing that would go

 

 

51

 

1 into the log, yes.

2 Q. Now, could we call up RNI-406-291 on the left-hand side

3 of the page, please (displayed). Now, this, I hope,

4 again, is a document you are familiar with. It is the

5 radio log, 14 March 1999. A lot of entries. I just

6 want to explore one or two things with you. In your

7 statement on the right-hand side of the page, you say:

8 "I confirm the QRF Commander came to the operations

9 room to debrief me and check the log. Reference to such

10 a visit would not necessarily be entered into my log,

11 but be reflected by an entry in the radio operator's

12 log."

13 Yes?

14 A. That's correct, sir.

15 Q. Are you able to look down that page and show us that

16 sort of entry?

17 A. I don't believe so, sir.

18 Q. Because it is around this time, isn't it? The page

19 starts at eight minutes past four pm; yes?

20 A. That's correct, sir.

21 Q. We can have a look over the page at RNI-406-292 and that

22 goes right the way down to 25 minutes past nine

23 (displayed)?

24 A. Yes, sir.

25 Q. I'm not about to say to you, "Look, there it is" because

 

 

52

 

1 I couldn't see it. I'm just asking for your help. Can

2 you see it on that page?

3 A. I can't, sir.

4 Q. Let's just -- sorry -- go over the page to RNI-406-293

5 (displayed). Can you see it on that top half of the

6 page?

7 A. No, I can't.

8 Q. Now, if we go back to RNI-406-292 (displayed), I hope

9 you take it from me that if we look at the entry 19.44,

10 we can see Gazelle 6; yes?

11 A. That's correct, sir.

12 Q. That is much, much earlier in the evening. We then have

13 got Gazelle 6 at 19.49 hours; yes?

14 A. Yes, sir.

15 Q. We then go over the page and the only entry that can be

16 seen there for Gazelle 6 in the radio log is at 23.51,

17 flicking?

18 A. Yes, sir.

19 Q. That's at the concluding time of Gazelle 6 operating in

20 the area. So, again, you may not be able to help us,

21 but you mentioned, well, there will be an entry about

22 Gazelle 6 in the radio log. All we have is what we see

23 on the page there, which is Gazelle 6 flicking at nine

24 minutes to midnight. (a) unusual, (b), can you give us

25 a explanation?

 

 

53

 

1 A. It is not unusual, and you'll see through that page on

2 a number of occasions it states from various call signs

3 that they are flicking. And my understanding is --

4 although I'm not an expert in this field -- that there

5 are a number of broadcast -- rebroadcast stations, masts

6 around the Province for which you would flick across to

7 a new mast as you were approaching that area in order to

8 still be able to communicate back to the operations

9 room.

10 Q. Yes. Now, before I move on to just some final

11 questions, more general questions, let me give you the

12 opportunity to try and assist the Inquiry. You are

13 a man who has had experience of the operations room, of

14 helicopter flights. The Inquiry is faced, in

15 a nutshell, with an oddity, if you like, with a flight,

16 namely Gazelle 6, at this time. You follow that?

17 A. I do, sir.

18 Q. It is added to, if you like, by the failure for there to

19 be a note in the log.

20 A. Right, sir.

21 Q. Can you just assist the Panel with your opinion, your

22 view, as to why that might be the case, what might lie

23 behind it and so on?

24 A. I just believe that that continuation of the task that

25 was carried out later, to confirm that the area was

 

 

54

 

1 quiet, from the previously early incident that had

2 occurred in the Lurgan area, confirmed that it was all

3 quiet, and that is the end of that. There was nothing

4 to report and, therefore, there was no entry for that

5 into the log.

6 If there was an entry -- sorry, if there was

7 a report that came from the QRF LO whilst with Gazelle 6

8 at that time of night to indicate to us there was some

9 activity in the area, then it would have been reported

10 in the log.

11 Q. Now, as far as covert operations and flights were

12 concerned, by definition of being covert, did you know

13 anything about them?

14 A. No, I didn't, sir.

15 Q. Did you ever hear about them generally?

16 A. No, I didn't, no.

17 Q. Was it ever your experience that what on the face of it

18 was presented to you as being a flight or a movement of

19 resources for one purpose was in fact, unbeknownst to

20 you, for another?

21 A. No.

22 Q. You hesitated there?

23 A. No, I was just trying to recollect if there is ever

24 occasion. I don't believe there ever has, no.

25 Q. Now, dealing with Mrs Nelson, Rosemary Nelson, your

 

 

55

 

1 experience of her, please, whilst you were serving in

2 Northern Ireland was what?

3 A. I didn't even know who she was, to be fair, until the

4 next day that I came on watch.

5 Q. The day of her murder?

6 A. Indeed, sir.

7 Q. And as far as comments or remarks about her are

8 concerned within the security forces, did you ever hear,

9 either directly or hearsay, any of those types of things

10 being made?

11 A. I didn't, sir, no.

12 Q. None at all?

13 A. None at all.

14 Q. Did you ever hear any expression of opinion by members

15 of the security forces as to the role lawyers played in

16 representing terrorists?

17 A. No, sir.

18 Q. None at all?

19 A. None whatsoever, sir.

20 Q. As far as your experience as an infantryman is

21 concerned, did you ever have occasion to carry out

22 patrols and vehicle checkpoints around this area?

23 A. Not from my own experience the Lurgan area, no, sir.

24 Q. In other parts of Northern Ireland?

25 A. Indeed, sir.

 

 

56

 

1 Q. I just want to mine your knowledge on that just for

2 a moment, if I may. How difficult would it be for

3 members of the security forces to set up a vehicle

4 checkpoint under their own steam that hadn't been

5 assigned, that nobody was told about?

6 A. There was a -- there is a lot of flexibility with regard

7 to a patrol programme, if you like. Before a patrol

8 goes out on the ground, it has to give a detailed plan

9 of its routes that it intends to go on and give

10 a detailed description of where along that route that it

11 intends to carry out VCPs. But there is some

12 flexibility, in that if the proposed location for

13 a vehicle checkpoint is not suitable for whatever

14 reasons, and they could be tactical reasons on the

15 ground that don't appear suitable, then he can change

16 them, the Commander can change them on the ground and

17 has to remain flexible on that.

18 Q. Thank you. Now, at this point, witnesses are asked at

19 the end of their evidence whether there is anything that

20 they would like to either comment on that has been

21 raised in evidence or add because I have not asked you

22 about it. So I'm doing that now to give you the

23 opportunity to say anything more you would like to on

24 any of the topics, or any additional topics that we have

25 covered?

 

 

57

 

1 A. No, I don't think, sir.

2 MR SAVILL: Thank you, there may be some questions from the

3 Panel.

4 Questions by THE CHAIRMAN

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Would you have a look at RNI-406-293 on the

6 left of the screen. This is the radio operator's log.

7 23.23, it is 20 with a line through. Is that to the

8 operations room. Is it?

9 A. Which entry are you looking at, sir, sorry?

10 THE CHAIRMAN: I'm looking at 23.23 during your tour of

11 duty.

12 A. Yes, sir.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: 23. We have an O with a line through it.

14 Does that mean to the operations room?

15 A. It does, sir, yes.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Then the next line is "from W24".

17 A. And that looks like an alpha, I believe.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: What does that mean?

19 A. That is the call sign of the patrol or the unit that is

20 on the ground at the time.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: So that is a ground unit on patrol at 23.23?

22 Is that right?

23 A. I couldn't say for sure, but that would be my

24 presumption. I would have to look at the patrol

25 planning matrix again to try and determine exactly who

 

 

58

 

1 that was.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Is 37 serial number, is it?

3 A. That's correct, sir.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Then we have -- what does the next entry say?

5 A. I think that that is abbreviation for -- the first two

6 letters C/S -- "call sign" and then the next two letters

7 "JL" I think would refer to Lurgan. I can't remember

8 what the J is though -- I think it is Lurgan.

9 MR SAVILL: Could I just interrupt? Does it have anything

10 to do with -- it may not -- J Division?

11 A. It probably is. That's correct, sir.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Lurgan. Yes. Then the same call sign is at

13 23.28 saying "now on task".

14 A. That's correct, sir.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Where would the task be recorded?

16 A. The task would be recorded on the patrol trace, which is

17 produced prior to the patrol going out: Details of who

18 is in that patrol, the route that that patrol will take

19 and it will give a description of what the patrol task

20 is during that time it is out on the ground. And then

21 it will have a set of points on the ground that it would

22 radio through and indicate to the ops room of where they

23 are at certain times during that patrol.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Why is there no entry in your watchkeeper's

25 log in relation to the task of this patrol?

 

 

59

 

1 A. Presumably, sir, because they had nothing to report. If

2 there was something to report of significance, then it

3 would have been in the log.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Then we come to 00.21. Again, this

5 same patrol, reporting the first serial entry for Monday

6 morning. That's just after midnight. Is that right?

7 A. That's right, sir.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: And what does that say:

9 "Mobile -- is it -- to your location"?

10 A. That's right, sir.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: That means it is coming in a vehicle back to

12 Mahon Road, does it?

13 A. That's correct, sir.

14 Q. Then at 00.34, we have that patrol returned to Mahon

15 Road?

16 A. It would appear that way, yes, sir.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: So the entries that I have referred to would

18 indicate that the radio operator was on duty in the ops

19 room over that period?

20 A. That's correct, sir.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Do you remember A252, otherwise A660?

22 A. Vaguely I remember him, yes, sir.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Do you remember by any chance now you have

24 looked at your statement to the police you made in the

25 year 2000, him telling you that he was going on leave

 

 

60

 

1 the following day?

2 A. I don't recall, sir, no.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Who did you report to if the operations

4 officer, in this instance the captain, was not on duty?

5 A. It would have been the ops warrant officer that was

6 subordinate to the operations officer in the ops room.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Did ever the operations officer leave the

8 operations room before the end of his tour of duty?

9 A. During -- I mean, he didn't stay in the ops room

10 24 hours, sir.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Where did he go to?

12 A. He went home. He would not stay in the ops room

13 24 hours. The operations officer would do a long day,

14 probably -- I could haven't say for sure, but from early

15 hours in the morning to quite late at night, and if

16 there was a requirement for him to stay on because there

17 was an incident occurring then he would probably stay

18 through the night.

19 He wouldn't do a night shift or a day shift, but

20 invariably he would be in and out of the ops room during

21 the day because he had meetings to attend to for

22 planning purposes and for briefing up the commanding

23 officer on what had taken place in the last 24 hours.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: If he came in on a Sunday evening to do an

25 evening spell of duty, would he stay until the early

 

 

61

 

1 hours of the morning or might he slope off earlier?

2 A. Are you referring to this particular date in question

3 with regard to -- because there was an incident that had

4 occurred on that Sunday which was --

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Concentrate on that subject.

6 A. Yes, there was an incident that had occurred on that

7 Sunday in the Kilwilke Estate. There was a lot of

8 criminal activities, probably is the best way of

9 describing it, ongoing in the Lurgan area, which was

10 within his area of operations. So he would want to be

11 in the operations room so that he could provide the

12 assistance as required to the police.

13 It wouldn't have been very good, seen in a good

14 light, if the police had have rang through to the ops

15 room requesting assistance and the operations officer

16 wasn't there. So at some point during the day the

17 operations officer would have been called to the ops

18 room by myself or by the radio operator and informed of

19 what is going on in his area of operations, and then he

20 will come directly to the ops room. Or he could have

21 been in the ops room all day that day because he was

22 planning for the following week's planning matrix. I

23 can't recall exactly what he was doing during that

24 period, but there is everything chance he could have

25 been at home and just called into the ops room because

 

 

62

 

1 there was an incident that occurred.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: The radio operator, was he a member of the

3 3 Royal Irish Regiment?

4 A. Yes, sir.

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Were you billeted in Mahon Road?

6 A. I was, sir, yes.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: And how far was your billet where you

8 slept --

9 A. It was about --

10 THE CHAIRMAN: -- from the ops room.

11 A. From the ops room it was about 600 metres, I would say,

12 no further, sir.

13 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Were you present during any briefing

14 given by A660 to A645 prior to a Gazelle flight?

15 A. I can't recall, sir. I can't recall if that actually

16 did take place, if that's the question.

17 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: You didn't see it, you weren't present?

18 A. If this was a briefing that took place, I would have

19 been there and if there was anything significant that

20 came out of it, then I would have remembered it but I

21 can't recall, sir, I'm sorry.

22 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: To your knowledge, did A645 come into

23 the control room that evening, the 14th?

24 A. Yes, he did. I do recall him coming in and whether it

25 was myself or the ops officer that spoke to him about

 

 

63

 

1 what was going on in the Kilwilke Estate in Lurgan at

2 that time, he would have been briefed on and what the

3 subsequent task was to be aware of.

4 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Did you want to take that point over,

5 Mr Savill?

6 MR SAVILL: No, thank you.

7 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: But you are unsure of who actually

8 spoke with him.

9 A. As I say, sir, I can't recall. It could have been

10 myself but it could have been the ops officer just as

11 well.

12 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: How many times did he come into the

13 control room? Are you aware?

14 A. He would probably have come into the ops room -- well,

15 he would have come into the ops room before the brief

16 and possibly after the task, in order to backbrief any

17 further details, if there was any further details to

18 backbrief. But he would have been giving that

19 commentary over the radio as it was in flight, and it

20 all depends on whether there is a requirement for him to

21 come back and be debriefed, if you like, but I honestly

22 can't recall if that did happen or not.

23 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you.

24 Just for completeness, you were on secondment for an

25 English regiment. Have you any family connections in

 

 

64

 

1 Northern Ireland?

2 A. I have none, sir, no.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you very much.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for coming to give evidence before

5 us.

6 Before the witness leaves, can the video engineer

7 please confirm that all the cameras have been switched

8 off.

9 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

11 We will adjourn until 1 o'clock on Monday.

12 (11.56 am)

13 (The Inquiry adjourned until 1.00 pm

14 on Monday, 2 March 2009)

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

 

 


 

1

2 I N D E X

3
Housekeeping ..................................... 1
4
A642 (sworn) ..................................... 5
5
Questions by MR SAVILL ....................... 5
6
Questions by THE CHAIRMAN .................... 57
7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25