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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 14:01 GMT
MoD announces closure of Deepcut
Deepcut barracks
Reports have claimed Deepcut will be replaced by housing

The controversial Deepcut army barracks in Surrey is to be closed, the government has confirmed.

Part of the training base near Camberley, where four soldiers died in shooting incidents between 1995 and 2002, is to be sold off by 2013.

The Princess Royal Barracks will close but the adjacent training areas and service family accommodation will be retained by the MoD.

Defence chiefs say the move is part of a review of training.

Housing contribution

The MoD's Defence Training Review aims to overhaul training facilities across the country by concentrating expertise at fewer sites.

It says keeping Deepcut's main facility, the Princes Royal Barracks, open beyond 2013 would not represent value for money.

I do hope that in making the announcement we don't upset those families
Bob Ainsworth
Armed Forces Minister

The news was announced in a written Commons statement from the Minister for Armed Forces, Bob Ainsworth.

He said the review had decided that it would be "in the best interests for defence to release the site for alternative civilian use and to re-provide the training facilities elsewhere".

He added: "It has been judged that the site could be suitable for residential development and make a significant contribution to the government's housing strategy."

Mr Ainsworth told the BBC the sale had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding Deepcut but said he understood it might cause distress.

"I do hope that, in making the announcement that we have today, we don't upset those families, although I understand the sensitivities," he said.

Earlier this week, the father of one of the four recruits who died at Deepcut expressed his sadness that the barracks were to be replaced by housing.

The four Deepcut victims
Four soldiers died at Deepcut barracks from gunshot wounds

Geoff Gray, whose 17-year-old son, Pte Geoff Gray, died in 2001, said an "awful lot of work" had been done at the facility and that it was now "probably one of the best training establishments in the country".

Along with Pte Gray, of Seaham, Co Durham, Sean Benton, 20, of Hastings, East Sussex, James Collinson, 17, of Perth, and Cheryl James, 18, of Llangollen, Denbighshire, all died of bullet wounds at the training base in separate shooting incidents between 1995 and 2002.

Inquests into the deaths recorded a verdict of suicide in Pte Benton's case and open verdicts for the other three.

'Meaningful inquiry'

Des James, the father of Cheryl James, told the BBC he had "no interest" in the closure of Deepcut.

"It's not for me to challenge any judgement that the MoD or the government may make over the defence of this country.

"We are not, any of the families for that matter, anti-military. What I am objecting to is that the camp should be flattened before any meaningful inquiry has taken place.

"Obviously that would conflict and be a big problem for an inquiry."

An independent review of the deaths, conducted by Nicholas Blake QC, concluded in March 2006 that the deaths were probably self-inflicted.

However, Mr Blake criticised army training, citing "harassment, discrimination and oppressive behaviour".

The families of the four soldiers have been calling for a public inquiry into their deaths.



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