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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
MP's call to halt Deepcut visit
Cheryl James and Sean Benton
Cheryl James and Sean Benton both died at Deepcut in 1995

An MP has called for a visit by the Princess Royal to an army barracks where four young soldiers died to be cancelled.

Kevin McNamara is backing the claims of the soldiers' families, who have called the visit to Deepcut Barracks insensitive and inappropriate.

The princess is set to visit the Surrey army base on Thursday in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Logistic Corps and to mark its 10th anniversary.

Four soldiers have been found shot dead at Deepcut since 1995 - with the Army ruling they took their own lives.

Early Day Motion

But their deaths are being investigated by Surrey Police - and the MP and the bereaved families have said the royal visit should not go ahead until the inquiry is completed.

Mr McNamara, the Labour MP for Hull North, has backed their stance by calling for the government to postpone the visit.

In a letter to Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, he said he was disappointed that "the families of soldiers who lost their lives in still unexplained circumstances at Deepcut Barracks could not have been spared the distress of having their grief so casually disregarded".

Geoff Gray and James Collinson
Geoff Gray and James Collinson died in 2001 and 2002 respectively

He said for the camp's anniversary to be celebrated while the investigation went on was "a grave error of judgment".

Mr McNamara has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for army deaths to be independently investigated, signed by 174 MPs.

The four privates to have died at Deepcut are Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen in north Wales; Sean Benton, from Hastings in East Sussex; Geoff Gray, from Seaham in County Durham; and James Collinson, from Perth in Scotland.

Relatives have demanded a public inquiry into the deaths and hired an independent forensic expert, Frank Swann, who spent six weeks at the barracks investigating the case.

He said in February he knew the causes of the deaths, but has yet to issue his report.

Surrey CID have said there is no evidence of any third-party involvement in the deaths, but they are still investigating the deaths and allegations of male rape at the barracks.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said on Tuesday: "We note Kevin McNamara's concerns about the timing of the visit but we can assure him it will not be an occasion of overt public celebration.

"This is a private occasion during which the princess will be meeting with soldiers of all rank who have served and are serving in the corps to express her appreciation of the services they given."




SEE ALSO:
Expert 'solves' Deepcut deaths
27 Feb 03  |  England
Call for Deepcut deaths inquiry
04 Feb 03  |  Scotland


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