Black Life Guard may quit over abuse

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The Independent Online
PETER VICTOR

Trooper Mark Campbell, the first black soldier in the Life Guards, may resign amid allegations of racial abuse. His decision will be a blow to the Prince of Wales's personal efforts to encourage recruitment of ethnic minorities into Household regiments.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that allegations of racial abuse were being investigated. But the Independent understands that Tpr Campbell, the first black soldier to ride beside the Queen on state occasions, has declined to make an official complaint.

Tpr Campbell started his duties last August in a blaze of publicity having won the Jackson Shield for the best turned-out cavalryman during his 20-week training. "Race should not be an issue, it's no problem to me," he said at the time.

His first public appearance was during the VJ Day commemorations as one of the 18 troopers escorting the Queen.

But the popular trooper faced two problems - the strain of being the solitary black face in the Household Cavalry and a serious skin complaint caused by the traditional plumed helmet and metal chin strap.

He received medical treatment for the rash but it did not improve. As he could no longer take part in ceremonial duties he was transferred to the regiment's training section at Windsor, but asked to return to the capital. He said one of the reasons he was unhappy at Windsor was because of racially abusive language. He admitted he had never been harmed and refused to make a complaint. However, Army sources confirmed he could leave.

Accusations of racial abuse surfaced in the black newspaper the Voice which quotes the trooper through a friend as saying: "If people had to go through what I'm going through they wouldn't hang on for a week. When you have to make a decision between hanging on in there and your life, what are you going to choose?"

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