Officers praise integrity of sex-case padre

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The Independent Online
A BRIGADIER told a court martial yesterday that if allegations of indecent assault against an army chaplain were true then he was a worse judge of men than he thought possible.

Brigadier David Montgomery said he would have no doubt about the integrity of the padre, Captain Richard Landall, 41, who is accused of four times indecently assaulting the wife of a soldier.

The brigadier, who was garrison commander when the padre was in Celle, Germany, where the offences are alleged to have happened, said he thought he was a pretty good judge of men.

"I am aware of the allegations made against Padre Landall. If they are true I am a worse judge of men than I thought possible," he said.

Capt Landall denies the allegations, said to have occurred in November last year when he was chaplain to the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Lt-Col Andrew Whistler, commanding officer of the battalion, said he considered Capt Landall to be the best padre he had served with.

"He was exactly the sort of padre an infantry battalion requires in peacetime and most importantly in war," he said.

Earlier, the alleged victim of the indecent assault, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been recalled to give evidence at the hearing at Aldershot, Hampshire, about contacts she has had with representatives of the News of the World about selling her story.

The woman denied she had fabricated her evidence to get money from newspapers.

She claims the chaplain groped her breast and on another occasion rubbed his groin against her bottom.

She also alleges that on other occasions he put his hand down her jogging trousers and kissed her on the lips.

She said that after giving evidence at the hearing she had returned to Germany where she met two people from the News of the World and denied she had thought about selling her story before the case had come to court.

Alison Barker, for the defence, said: "I suggest you went after money right from the beginning and before this court case."

The witness said: "There is no amount of money in the world that will compensation for going through this."

She added: "I have done nothing wrong. All I did was come forward to the authorities, say what was happening and say I wanted the situation stopped."

A friend of the woman said that last March the woman and her husband were saying that they intended to go to the newspapers and the padre was going to be in a lot of trouble because of the allegations that had been made. She said the soldier did most of the talking and his wife made comments like "I shall get a lot" and "the papers will be interested".

Charges against the chaplain alleging harassment of another soldier's wife and her husband were dismissed last week at the court martial.

The hearing continues today when it is expected to conclude.