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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 14:04 GMT
Long fight for soldier's parents
By Andrew Black
BBC Scotland news website
Tayside and Central reporter

Jim and Yvonne Collinson
Jim and Yvonne Collinson have been involved in a long campaign
The refusal of Private James Collinson's parents to accept his death as suicide led them on a campaign lasting almost four years.

Even the decision not to pursue a criminal prosecution did not deter Jim and Yvonne Collinson from insisting on a full public inquiry.

They believed James, 17, from Perth, found dead from a single gunshot wound at Deepcut in 2002, was murdered.

They said he had shown no indication that he would take his own life.

James Collinson was one of four privates who had died from gunshot wounds at the Surrey barracks since 1995.

Making plans

The Army said the deaths were suicide, but a police investigation was launched following pressure from the soldiers' parents.

Mr Collinson said it was his "gut feeling" that his son was murdered and challenged Surrey Police and the Ministry of Defence to come up with concrete answers.

James' parents insisted he was a happy, cheerful young man, full of pride at being a soldier and making plans for his future.

They said police told them that while no evidence of third party involvement was found, nor was any evidence of suicidal tendencies.

James Collinson
James Collinson's parents insisted he had no reason to kill himself

Their campaign was also highlighted by the BBC's Frontline Scotland programme, which uncovered flaws in the investigations into the deaths, including a failure to carry out proper ballistic tests.

Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, north Wales, Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, Co Durham and Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings, East Sussex also died at Deepcut.

Campaigning from all of the families won support at Westminster, with the then Labour MP and former Commons defence committee member, Kevin McNamara, and Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik calling for a public inquiry.

"The number of incidents should raise red flags all over the range as far as the Army is concerned," Mr McNamara had said.

The Collinsons welcomed a decision in 2002 by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee to hold a formal inquiry into the four deaths, after the police investigation and other legal matters had concluded.

Remained undeterred

At the time Mr Collinson became concerned that Surrey CID had come up against a "wall of silence in the Army".

In July 2003, Mr Collinson welcomed an invitation to meet the armed forces minister, describing the move as a u-turn by the MoD.

He had been trying to tell the MoD that sexual harassment and bullying still occurred in the Army.

In September 2003, Mr Collinson condemned the decision not to pursue a prosecution over the death of his son.

He said the outcome was a cover-up and remained undeterred in his campaign for a full public inquiry.

"It used to smell of a cover-up and it stinks of a cover-up now," he said at the time.


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