Military abuse inquiry collapses
Disciplinary procedures could still go ahead despite the collapse of one of the largest investigations into alleged abuse of teenage military recruits.
Campaigners are calling for senior Royal Military Police (RMP) officers to be investigated following a flawed inquiry into claims that young recruits were physically abused by their instructors.
The soldiers allege they were beaten, spat at and forced to eat animal manure during training in 2014.
However, they were forced to wait years for their alleged abusers to be interviewed or charged, and some handwritten evidence has disappeared.
On Monday (March 19), Assistant Judge Advocate General Alan Large dropped the case against five defendants claiming they could not receive a fair trial.
Soldiers deserve better than this second-rate justice system. Military police don’t have the resources, expertise, oversight or impartiality to conduct proper, fair investigations.
The collapse follows the decision by prosecutors to offer no evidence in 24 of the 31 charges faced by ten suspects.
An Army spokesperson said: “Despite the outcome, we will consider carefully whether any internal disciplinary action is necessary.
“Given this ruling, the Service Prosecuting Authority and the Royal Military Police will be conducting a review to ensure that lessons are learned.”
The RMP investigation examined complaints from 40 recruits who alleged they were subject to demeaning physical abuse during training in Scotland.
Thirty instructors were named in the complaints, leading to 16 sergeants and corporals being charged.
However, the RMP failed to question eyewitnesses and took up to two years to question some of the suspects.
Other evidence appears to have been lost as handwritten statements by the recruits were never found.
Five defendants were immediately acquitted. The case against the remaining five has now collapsed.
Human rights group Liberty said the collapse should be a “wake-up call” for the Ministry of Defence.
A spokesperson said: “Soldiers deserve better than this second-rate justice system. Military police don’t have the resources, expertise, oversight or impartiality to conduct proper, fair investigations.
“Civilian police should investigate crimes on British soil.”