Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Families Take Deepcut Fight to the Stage

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Families Take Deepcut Fight to the Stage

Article excerpt

Byline: LOUISE JURY Chief Arts Correspondent

FAMILIES of the soldiers who died at Deepcut barracks will today use a new play about the tragedy to step up their fight for justice.

They are hoping the London theatre production will shame the Government into holding a public inquiry.

Four privates -- Sean Benton, 20, of Hastings; Cheryl James, 18, of Llangollen, Clwyd; Geoff Gray, 17, of Hackney; and James Collinson, 17, of Perth -- were all found shot dead between 1995 and 2002.

The Army said they had killed themselves at the training barracks near Camberley, Surrey.

Their families denied suicide and in the ensuing row, the camp was accused of being a breeding ground for abuse and bullying.

Des James, the father of Cheryl, said the play was their only recourse after other attempts to find the truth failed.

He and his wife, Doreen, will make a public appeal at the opening of Deep Cut at the Tricycle, Kilburn, tonight.

"Today we are forced to take our fight into the theatre on behalf of four young people whose only contribution to this sorry situation is that they signed up to defend their country," he said.

"We're trying to embarrass this Government into doing something. The simple truth is there hasn't been an inquiry. But without such an inquiry we can never understand what happened at that camp and we can never be sure whether all that could have been done has been done." Ministers who have been involved in the case include Geoff Hoon, former defence secretary, Adam Ingram, former defence minister, and Bob Ainsworth, current Armed Forces Minister.

They have all been invited to see the play but none has agreed to attend.

Sir Nicholas Blake, author of the Deepcut review into the deaths, also turned down the invitation.

The play was written by Philip Ralph using testimonies from those closest to Cheryl. The production premiered at the Edinburgh Festival last year where it won several awards and is to be turned into a film by Michael Winterbottom. …

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