Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was warned days before the fatal Bloody Sunday march in Londonderry that soldiers being sent to the city had already "over-reacted" at civil rights protests.
According to papers released under the 30-year-rule, the former prime minister's most senior official asked him whether or not he was prepared for the consequences of action by the military against protesters in Northern Ireland.
The papers also reveal Sir Edward told the judge investigating how the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 people at the march that he should not forget the UK was fighting a "propaganda war"...
The papers confirm that four days before the march, Sir Edward received a security briefing on the march, organised to protest against internment, a form of imprisonment without trial introduced at the height of the political and civil crisis.
In his memo to the prime minister, Cabinet secretary Sir Burke Trend, the most senior civil servant, recommended Mr Heath review the activities of the Parachute Regiment which was being moved to Derry as part of the operation.
"You may wish to question the Secretary of State for Defence about recent suggestions in the press and on television that the army over-reacted against some of the civil rights demonstrations last weekend," wrote Sir Burke.
"And that, in particular, soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, by being unnecessarily rough, have gratuitously provoked resentment among peaceful elements of the Roman Catholic population."
Following the deaths, the government appointed Lord Widgery, Chief Justice of England, to lead the inquiry.
Sir Edward met Lord Widgery at Downing Street immediately after his appointment was announced to parliament.
According to the minutes, Sir Edward told the judge that a public inquiry was "not realistic" for security reasons.
"It had to be remembered that we were in Northern Ireland fighting not only a military war but a propaganda war," Sir Edward told Lord Widgery.
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