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Deepcut Army Barracks

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

The Petition of residents of Sutton, Cheam, Worcester Park and others,

Declares that the findings of the Army Board of Inquiry into the deaths of Privates Geoff Gray and James Collinson at Deepcut Army Barracks have not closed the matter and leave questions unanswered and no one accountable for what happened

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to sanction a full, independent, public inquiry into the deaths of Deepcut Army Barracks between 1995 and 2002

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Paul Burstow, Official Report, 9 December 2009; Vol. 502, c. 469 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Defence:

The Government do not support the call for a public inquiry into the deaths that took place at the Deepcut Barracks. Nicholas Blake QC undertook an independent review into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the four soldiers at the Deepcut Barracks. His report was published on 29 March 2006. A lawyer of Mr. Blake’s standing was appointed to undertake the review to ensure that the process would be both independent and fair. He determined his own procedures and interpreted his terms of reference broadly. Mr. Blake was able to deliver a report more quickly than would have been the case with a public inquiry. He provided insights and conclusions that were both critical and challenging but of great value in helping us to improve the way we look after all our people.

In common with the House of Commons Defence Committee, Mr. Blake concluded that, on the basis of current evidence, a public inquiry into the immediate or broader circumstances surrounding these deaths is not necessary. The Government agree with this and in view of the extensive investigations that have already taken place, considers there is no Service interest in pursuing a public inquiry.

In his review, Mr. Blake made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the training environment and the care and welfare of young Servicemen and women. The Ministry of Defence takes its responsibility to ensure that personnel are properly cared for very seriously and has responded to Mr. Blake’s recommendations. Our policy on the care of Under 18s was revised and reissued in the form of a guidance note to Commanding Officers in light of the Deepcut Review.

The training environment for new recruits has improved accordingly. This is illustrated by the way in which the Armed Forces training organisations are now subject to independent scrutiny by inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. These inspectors are separate to the Ministry of Defence, and their work supports us in identifying further areas for ongoing improvement.

I hope this explains the Government’s position on this matter.