Page last updated at 18:34 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Courts martial after BBC filming

Russell Sharp
Undercover reporter Russell Sharp filmed using a mobile phone

Four Army training instructors will face courts martial after allegations of abuse that came to light during an undercover investigation by the BBC.

Recruits complained of being "battered" by some instructors at Catterick training barracks in Yorkshire. One claimed his shoes had been urinated on.

Junior Defence Minister Kevan Jones said the accused were already under investigation before the broadcast.

BBC reporter Russell Sharp spent six months as a recruit at Catterick.

'Continuing investigations'

He secretly filmed life at the infantry training centre on his mobile phone and recorded his thoughts, aired in September.

In a Commons written reply to Labour's Joan Humble MP, Mr Jones said: "We were already aware of some of the allegations made by the BBC in its 'The Undercover Soldier' documentary.

"A Royal Military Police (Special Investigation Branch) investigation had been initiated in February.

"For those we were not aware of, an RMP(SIB) investigation was launched as soon as the BBC made us aware of their concerns. These investigations are continuing."

He added: "The Army prosecuting authority has now directed that four individuals, who were the subject of allegations of which we were already aware and which we were investigating, should face trial by court martial."

On-screen claims

Russell Sharp spoke in the BBC programme to one recruit who said of an instructor: "Yeah he beat me up... kicked me around. Punched me."

Despite examples of good practice, two recruits claimed they were forced to the ground, one with a rifle loaded and ready to fire.

One corporal is alleged to have urinated on a recruit's boot, and more than one young soldier said he was punched in the face by his instructor.

At the time the broadcast was aired, the then head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said: "Robust training is what we're after - bullying is not acceptable."

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