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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Family anger at Deepcut inquiry block
Deepcut Barracks
The Army says the Deepcut deaths were suicide
The father of a County Durham soldier who died in a barracks shooting has accused the Army of being "too scared" to hold a public inquiry.

On Thursday the government rejected calls for a full inquiry into deaths at the Army's Deepcut Barracks in Surrey.

Baroness Crawley, government defence spokeswoman in the Lords, dismissed the idea of an independent inquiry during an ongoing police investigation.

Geoff Gray, 39, father of Private Geoff Gray, 17, who died while on guard duty at the base, said he would continue his fight for justice.

Private Geoff Gray
Private Gray was one of four soldiers who died

Mr Gray said Army chiefs were afraid of what might come out of a public inquiry.

He also accused the government of stalling because of the impending war with Iraq.

Baroness Crawley ruled out a full public inquiry, but said the influential Commons defence committee would look into the four deaths while the Army was holding its own inquiry.

Private Gray, from Seaham, along with privates Sean Benton, Cheryl James, 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.

Mr Gray, 39, said: "We must have a public inquiry,"

"If they committed suicide we must know why they committed suicide, and if they were murdered we must know why.

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

"The political view is that they don't want anybody rocking the boat with the military when we are possibly going to war with Iraq."

The body of one 17-year-old soldier was exhumed by police as part of their inquiry into the four deaths.

Families called for a public inquiry following allegations of a culture of bullying in the camp.

Mr Gray added: "The Army is scared to open the doors and say `come in and have a look to see what's wrong here'.

"But the longer we wait, the more chances the Army have to cover up any wrongdoing.

"It is for the Army's good to open the doors and get everything out in the open."


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