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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Deepcut families vow to fight on
Road sign in Deepcut village
Deepcut has impacted on army recruitment, say the families
The families of four army recruits who died at Deepcut barracks have vowed to continue fighting for a public inquiry despite the publication of a review.

Such a probe "would serve the interests of the families, the public and the Army itself", they said.

Nicholas Blake, QC, who led the review, concluded that three of the recruits probably killed themselves.

He reached no conclusion on the fourth recruit's death, because of a recent inquest. It ended with an open verdict.

But the families of the four recruits who died at the Surrey barracks said his review had highlighted "horrendous bullying and intimidation" and that his task had been hampered by "limited powers".

Recruits Sean Benton, 20, of Hastings, East Sussex; James Collinson, 17, of Perth; Geoff Gray, 17, of Seaham, Co Durham, and Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, Denbighshire, died of bullet wounds at the training base in separate incidents between 1995 and 2002.

'Stand-off'

Reading a statement outside the House of Commons, Des James, the father of Pte James, said: "Mr Blake's task would have been made easier had his powers not been limited."

He highlighted the fact that Mr Blake had not been able to compel witnesses to give evidence or release the names of those witnesses who refused to give evidence.

Our children signed to serve the country. It's time the country served them
Deepcut families' statement

"We have been told that Deepcut, together with the ongoing war in Iraq, is having a considerable effect on recruitment in the British army," he added.

"The MoD must take responsibility for this. It is a consequence of a four-year stand-off we've had with them in our fight to get to the truth of what happened to our children."

The statement concluded: "We still believe a public inquiry would serve the interests of the families, of the public and of the Army itself.

"In light of this we are continuing our fight for a public inquiry. Our children signed to serve the country. It's time the country served them."

Pte Gray's father, also named Geoff, confirmed that he would now be launching a legal battle to have a fresh inquest into his son's death.

He said he did not think the report had left his campaign to uncover the truth "any further forward".

"We have applied to Surrey Police to have full disclosure on Geoff's case, at the moment we are still waiting for that, we believe that once we have got all the information on Geoff's death we can then go to judicial review," he said.

'Helpful report'

Commenting on the review, the British Army's Adjutant General, Lieutenant General Freddie Viggers, said the review had "given us a number of very positive recommendations".

He said they would take "serious account" of these recommendations over the next month or so.

"I think it's a helpful report for us because it does show that while there were certainly things that were wrong at the time of the deaths that were not going as well as they should have been, there has been significant change to the Army's training organisation in the time since then," he said.

"We can still offer and do offer young people a highly positive training programme to launch their career."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Deepcut mother speaks out after review



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