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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
'No cover-up' at Deepcut
Entrance to Deepcut barracks
The deaths are being investigated by police
The government has said there has not been "any kind of cover-up" into the deaths of four soldiers at an army barracks at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey.

On Thursday Baroness Crawley, speaking on behalf of the government, was grilled in the Lords' question time about the deaths and the Ministry of Defence's response to them.

She rejected calls for a public inquiry, saying: "The government does not believe that... would be appropriate while these investigations are continuing by the local police force."

But she noted that the Commons defence committee would be holding an inquiry into the issue.

Deepcut deaths
Pte Sean Benton, 20, died in June 1995 with five bullet wounds in the chest
Pte Cheryl James, 17, died in 1995 from a gunshot wound to the head
Pte Geoff Gray died from two gunshot wounds to the head in September 2001
Pte James Collinson was found dead from a single gunshot wound in March 2002

There would also be an Army Board of Inquiry.

Privates Sean Benton, Cheryl James, Geoff Gray, and James Collinson all died of gunshot wounds at the barracks, near Camberley.

The Army said the deaths were suicide, but following pressure from the soldiers' parents a police investigation is now underway.

"I would dispute the allegation that there has been any kind of cover-up," Lady Crawley said.

"The Army are working fully with the police in this matter and will continue to do so."

Labour's Lord Ashley of Stoke, said: "The recent events have seriously jeopardised the reputation of the Army for scrutinising unusual and unexpected deaths."

He said the police had said the Army's investigations had not been carried out "comprehensively and properly", and bereaved families were "angry and resentful at what they see as cover-ups".

Bullying 'not tolerated'

Former Territorial Army officer and Liberal Democrat frontbencher Lord Redesdale called for a firmer stand on bullying in the armed forces.

He said: "There seems to be a large spate of suicides, and something is going seriously wrong."


There seems to be a large spate of suicides, and something is going seriously wrong

Lord Redesdale
Responding, Lady Crawley said: "Bullying and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated in the Army or any of the forces.

"Any such allegations are always thoroughly investigated and immediate disciplinary action is taken against those involved, if found proven."

Tory frontbencher Earl Attlee, a TA officer, said: "The current Surrey Police inquiry is the correct approach and will reveal if further inquiries are required."

Tory former Armed Forces minister Lord Trefgarne questioned whether the military authorities had been "sufficiently expeditious" in reporting the four deaths to the police.

Lady Crawley replied: "The military authorities in those cases followed the procedure, and I have every confidence in that."


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