Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MPs Savage Army on Deepcut Scandal; REPORTS BLASTS 'HISTORY OF INACTION' OVER BULLYING

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MPs Savage Army on Deepcut Scandal; REPORTS BLASTS 'HISTORY OF INACTION' OVER BULLYING

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW GILLIGAN

THE ARMY and Ministry of Defence are blasted today by an influential committee of MPs in the most damning report yet produced in the wake of the Deepcut scandal.

MPs on the Commons defence committee say aspects of what went on at Deepcut displayed a "disturbing level of indifference or incompetence, neither of which is acceptable". Military commanders had "failed to grasp the nettle" of their duty to care for young recruits.

In landmark recommendations, the MPs call for commanders to be stripped of their powers to investigate abuse, attack the standards of many instructors at the bases and say the youngest soldiers should no longer be allowed firearms on guard duty.

There should be an independent "civilian-based" complaints commission with retrospective and binding powers, they say.

Many of the Army's policies against abuse were "not working," the MPs believe. "The not tolerate bullying does not sit well with the levels of bullying the MoD acknowledge."

The committee chairman, Bruce George, attacks the MoD's "history of inaction" on duty of care and its " failure" to implement lessons of previous reviews.

Sexual and racial harassment "remains a problem throughout the armed forces," the MPs say, savaging a " culture and ethos that discourages complaint. " The committee also attacks the for informing relatives of trainee soldiers who died.

The devastating conclusions, first revealed in the Standard 10 days ago, follows a series of scandals at Deepcut, where four young soldiers died in disputed circumstances between 1995 and 2002. Last year a Surrey Police dossier detailed 173 separate allegations of rape, gang rape, assault, racial abuse, bullying and sexual humiliation at the base.

The committee's report delighted parents of the dead soldiers, who have campaignedfor years for a full inquiry. …

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