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17 army instructors charged with assaulting teenage recruits

The Guardian logo The Guardian 4 days ago Frances Perraudin
Bulford court martial centre in Salisbury, where the 17 instructors will face proceedings. © Getty Bulford court martial centre in Salisbury, where the 17 instructors will face proceedings.

Seventeen army instructors have been charged with assaulting teenage recruits at a battle camp in Scotland.

The instructors – who are thought to be veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan – face 40 charges of battery, ill-treatment and actual bodily harm. They could be jailed if found guilty.

The six alleged victims reportedly claim that, while at a battle camp in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, the instructors punched and kicked them, used their boots to push their heads under water and smeared cow and sheep dung over their faces and into their mouths.

Recruits, who were 17 at the time, reported the abuse a few weeks later and a military police investigation was launched. The investigation has reportedly cost £1m and taken three years.

The instructors, from the Army Foundation College (AFC) in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, were charged last week and all deny any wrongdoing. They will appear at a military court next month.

An army spokesperson said: “We can confirm that 17 former recruit instructors are to face court martial proceedings at Bulford court martial centre on 21-22 September. These cases are subject to judicial consideration therefore it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, where details of the case first emerged, former British army commander in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, described the case as extraordinary. “I have never heard of a case of this scale,” he said.

“If these charges are proven it will certainly be detrimental to the army from a recruiting perspective. But I am incredulous as well as surprised. While there must be some aggression in recruit training, what is alleged goes far beyond what is acceptable.”

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