1. ITV Report

Deepcut police officer 'pressured' to record deaths as suicides

Undated handout of Private Cheryl James. Photo: PA Wire

A former police officer who investigated two deaths at Deepcut Army Barracks said he was "pressured from above" to record them as suicides.

Today, the family of another 18-year-old Army recruit who died at Deepcut barracks were granted permission to apply for a fresh inquest into her death.

The decision by the Attorney General could open the way to a much wider investigation, as Rupert Evelyn reports.

Pte James was undergoing initial training at Deepcut Barracks when she was found dead with gunshot wounds in November 1995.

She was one of four young soldiers who died at the barracks in Surrey between 1995 and 2002 in apparent suicides, sparking allegations of bullying and abuse.

Former Detective Colin Sutton, who investigated two deaths at the barracks, told ITV News he was put under a "certain amount of pressure" from above to record the deaths of suicides.

Mr Sutton said he felt "very uneasy" about the pressure he was put under, and that his police force was caught between the "tension" of wanting to be supportive to the Army, and to the families.

Cheryl's family had long campaigned for a fresh inquest into her death. Today a spokesman for the Attorney General said the new inquest would be "in the interests of justice".

Though today's announcement is significant, there is no guarantee a new inquest will be granted, or whether it would establish what happened to the four soldiers.

Cheryl's father James said he remains hopeful her death and that of the other three young soldiers can be investigated further so the families might be able to find out what happened to her, but he is not holding his breath.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said:

Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Private Cheryl James.

This decision is a matter for the Attorney General and the courts.

If a new inquest is ordered, we will of course provide support to the coroner when needed.