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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Catterick families call for inquiry
Soldiers on exercise
Families are calling for an inquiry into non-combat deaths
The families of soldiers who have died at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire are calling for a public inquiry into non-combat deaths at the barracks.

The families are travelling to the House of Commons to put pressure on the government to investigate bullying and harassment of young recruits in the army.

And the families are being backed in their call for action by the Hull North Labour MP Kevin McNamara

The call for a public inquiry into the non-combat deaths of hundreds of British soldiers is being backed by Amnesty International.

Geoff Gray's 17-year-old son, also Geoff, was found shot dead at the Deepcut barracks in Surrey in 2001.

On Wednesday the North Yorkshire campaigners will join Mr Gray to renew calls for the 1,700 non-combat deaths of soldiers since 1990 to be investigated.

They will be backed at a House of Commons press conference by the Human Rights organisation and Labour MP for Hull North, Kevin McNamara.

In the Army, you're nothing but a number, but as soon as you're dead that number is scratched out straightaway
Geoff Gray

They say a wider public inquiry is needed because of growing concern at the way the deaths are investigated, amid reports of bullying of young recruits.

Mr Gray, now living in Hackney, east London, told BBC News: "What we need is a full public inquiry into non-combat deaths within the UK.

"There's an awful lot of young soldiers being killed in various circumstances and I believe that an awful lot of those soldiers' deaths have not been investigated correctly.

"I think the Army has had a blasť attitude towards young soldiers - you're in the Army, you're nothing but a number, but as soon as you're dead that number is scratched out straightaway."

'Closed ranks'

Mr Gray said Surrey Police assumed his son had committed suicide, within hours of his death, without properly investigating.

He said: "Those young soldiers signed up to serve their country. I think it's about time their country served them by giving them a decent inquiry into how they died."

Geoff Gray and James Collinson
Geoff Gray died in 2001 and James Collinson died the following year
He added: "The British army has time and time again closed ranks and not investigated deaths as closely as they should have."

An independent forensic expert Frank Swann was hired by the families to investigate the deaths and has yet to report his findings.



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