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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 20:35 GMT
Deepcut families are criticised
Soldiers' families
The families of soldiers who died at Deepcut want a full inquiry
The chairman of the House of Commons defence select committee has criticised the families of three young soldiers who died at Deepcut barracks.

Bruce George MP told the parents he would have "thrown out" any other group who questioned his methods.

He was responding to claims by one of the fathers, Des James, that the probe took a "very one sided view" by not taking enough evidence from the Army.

Mr George said the committee was conducting a thorough inquiry.

The families of James Collinson, 17, of Perth, Cheryl James, 18, of Llangollen, north Wales, and Geoff Gray, 17, of east London but originally from County Durham, do not accept the Army line that their children committed suicide.

The parents told the hearing their children were excited about joining the Army and had no apparent problems that would lead them to kill themselves.

Mr James called for Ron Laden and Nigel Barrie Josling, who were Lieutenant-Colonels in charge at Deepcut when the deaths took place, to be asked to give evidence before the committee.

Army accountability

He said it was a vital issue of accountability that they should be questioned about the events at the camp.

But Mr George, the Labour MP for Walsall South, said: "We're taking half of our time or more in wondering and agonising what happened to your kids."

"We're turning down requests to do inquiries because we feel we have an obligation to your kids and kids who have not been well treated in the armed forces."

He stressed that the inquiry was working within its terms of reference.

I don't think we can carry on any longer denying an inquiry because there's been so many deaths
Des James

Committee member Mike Hancock MP said it was "obvious" to him that the officers should now be present, but Mr George reminded him that the committee had not considered that yet.

Mr James' daughter was found with a single bullet wound to her head at Deepcut in 1995 just eight days after her arrival at the barracks.

A review of evidence about abuse claims at Deepcut has been promised but the families want a full inquiry.

The families say the Army failed to investigate the deaths properly, that evidence has been lost or destroyed and that Army investigators were too quick to label the deaths as suicide.

Mr James said: "Only when that complete and transparent review of what happened at Deepcut can we all relax.

"I don't think we can carry on any longer denying an inquiry because there's been so many deaths."

Deepcut barracks
The deaths at Deepcut took place between 1995 and 2002

The mothers of four young soldiers who died while in Army care also voiced concerns about the bullying of recruits on Thursday.

They told the defence committee their sons became introverted after starting training at the Catterick barracks in North Yorkshire.

Commenting on the experiences of other concerned parents, Mr James added: "I have absolutely, categorically no doubt whatsoever that there are suitable cases for Catterick and the other camps that require a suitable inquiry.

"I do not think it's acceptable...that we can refuse an inquiry into the deaths at Deepcut simply because there are other cases."

Geoff Gray, from Seaham, County Durham, whose 17-year-old son Geoff died from two bullets to the head at the barracks in 2002, said: "We feel not everything has been done. There must be a public inquiry to satisfy ourselves, to satisfy parliament and the British people."

The families agreed that there should be a specific public inquiry into Deepcut, accompanied, if necessary, by one into Catterick and events elsewhere.




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