Cheryl James Deepcut death: 'Police see inquest as joke'

Private Cheryl James Image copyright other
Image caption Pte Cheryl James died at Deepcut barracks in Surrey in 1995

The family of a soldier found dead at an army barracks have accused police of treating a delayed inquest into her death as "a joke".

Pte Cheryl James, 18, died at Deepcut barracks, Surrey, in November 1995 from a single bullet wound to the head.

Her father, Des, said his legal team had struggled to obtain documents relating to the case from Surrey Police.

The force said it supported a "thorough inquest" into Pte James's death.

Mr James said police had only released details after being threatened with litigation.

At the High Court in February, Surrey Police requested a new inquest, ordered in July, be delayed.

'Requests refused'

"We are now told by Surrey Police that we only have 75% of that disclosure. It's becoming a bit of a joke for Surrey Police," Mr James said.

In December, the force said it would release the remaining 25% of documents by Easter.

It said it was continuing to provide voluntary disclosure of documents, and had a dedicated team working to complete the family's request "as quickly and effectively as possible".

But Mr James said documents had only been disclosed after pressure from his solicitors.

"I wanted them to give the documents to our legal representation and they were refusing," he said.

'Sexual harassment'

"They shouldn't be using the word 'voluntarily' - they're not being absolutely honest about it."

The force said it supported a "thorough inquest" into 18-year-old Pte James's death.

Pte James, from Denbighshire, was one of four soldiers found dead at Deepcut between 1995 and 2002.

A Surrey Police investigation was launched into their deaths in 2002, following pressure from families, who rejected suggestions the soldiers had committed suicide.

Pte James's parents believe their daughter suffered sexual harassment and bullying and said her death was treated as suicide, despite evidence to the contrary.

The Deepcut deaths

Image copyright Other
Image caption Privates Benton, James, Gray and Collinson, who all died at Deepcut
  • June 1995: Pte Sean Benton (far left), from Hastings, East Sussex, found dead with five bullet wounds to chest. Verdict: Suicide
  • November 1995: Pte Cheryl James (second left), from Llangollen, Denbighshire, found dead with single bullet wound to head. Open verdict
  • September 2001: Pte Geoff Gray (second right), from Seaham, County Durham, found dead with two gunshot wounds. Five shots were fired, three never found. Open verdict
  • March 2002: Pte James Collinson (far right), from Perth, found dead with single gunshot wound. Open verdict

Profiles of the Deepcut four

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