Friday, 3 June 2016

The Deepcut Horror.

A number of news reports over the past couple of weeks have saddened and angered me, none more so than today’s second inquest which found that the death of Pte Cheryl James at Deepcut Barracks was suicide. In her case it might have been, since there’s evidence to suggest that the treatment she received at the hands of seasoned male soldiers at the barracks would have driven any young woman to want to give up on life.

But I don’t know. There were four suspicious deaths there between 1995 and 2002. The army claimed they were all suicides, and the inquests concurred. They included a young male soldier who had five gunshot wounds to the head, and a ballistics expert argued that four of the shots came from long range. He further argued that the death couldn’t possibly have been suicide. But even if he was wrong about the ballistics evidence, the question must surely be asked: how the hell does somebody shoot himself in the head five times?

A search of the web will turn up plenty of information on the Deepcut Barracks affair, but there’s a brief resumé here.

Several police forces were involved in investigating the deaths at Deepcut, but I gather they were all biased towards vindicating the suicide theory. One force soundly criticised a previous force’s handling of the investigation, but then the whole thing disappeared from the news pages and one has to wonder why. Successive governments consistently refused demands for a thorough, independent inquiry into the deaths, and now they have the perfect excuse: It’s too long ago; memories will have become weakened with time and therefore unreliable. This is a standard cover-up tactic, and that’s what worries me.

We in Western Europe like to believe that our respective Establishments are honest and transparent. We like to think that cover-ups are the preserve of countries where oppressive regimes operate on the basis that all’s fair in love, war and the maintenance of power. (We associate them with America, too. Sorry Americans, but you do have the CIA.)

Well, there’s enough evidence right here on the surface of the Deepcut affair to strongly suggest that we might be sadly misguided.

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