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  1. ITV Report

MoD misses deadline for submitting files for inquest into teenage soldier's death

The Ministry of Defence has failed to meet a promised deadline for submitting crucial documents for an inquest into the death of a teenage soldier at an army barracks, a court has heard.

Private Cheryl James was found with a bullet wound to her head at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in 1995.

Undated handout photo of (left) Private James Collinson and (right) Private Cheryl James. Credit: PA

She was 18-years-old and was undergoing initial training. An inquest is now underway after an open verdict - recorded in December 1995 - was quashed in the High Court.

Private James was one of four soldiers who died at the barracks between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. Privates Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray also died from gunshot wounds.

At a pre-inquest review at Woking Coroner's Court, Private James' father Des James said he was "disappointed" by the failure of the MoD to supply the documents by the agreed deadline.

Families of soldiers who died while serving in the British Army at Deepcut Army Barracks, (left to right) Doreen and Desmond James, parents of Cheryl James, Diane and Geoff Gray, the parents of Geoff Gray. Credit: Dominic Lipinski / PA Archive/PA Images

"The MoD have, in my opinion, acted in an extraordinarily arrogant way," he said.

"I was very surprised and disappointed. We are back to the situation where [they are saying] 'trust us' and I don't. Why would I?

"Here is an organisation saying 'we have found 23,000 documents, we are going to decide what is relevant'", he added.

"We have asked on two occasions to help, or to look at the documents and on two separate occasions we have been told 'no.'"

Nicholas Moss who is representing the MoD said the volume of the files being searched meant much time was taken deciding which documents were relevant for the inquest, which begins on 1 February next year. He promised all relevant documents would be delivered by 11 January.

The inquest is expected to last up to seven weeks, and will consider whether a third party was involved in Private James's death and what happened on the evening before she died.

It will also address whether there were "shortcomings" with barrack policies on sexual behaviour, supervision of young females, drugs, alcohol and accommodation.