Deepcut inquiry led by human rights QC

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A human rights lawyer and colleague of Cherie Booth is to head an inquiry into the deaths of soldiers at Deepcut army barracks.

Nicholas Blake QC, who has acted against the Ministry of Defence in high-profile cases, will undertake "a fully independent" review of the cases, the Armed Forces minister, Adam Ingram, said yesterday.

The appointment followed widespread accusations of a cover-up by the MoD over the deaths and allegations of systematic abuse at Deepcut.

But some of the families of the four dead soldiers insisted only an official public inquiry would be acceptable. They also attacked Mr Ingram for continuing to maintain yesterday that the MoD's actions over the deaths had been "adequate and comprehensive" and complaining that publicity about the controversy was "doing damage to recruiting for the armed forces".

Mr Blake, 55, has acted against the MoD on behalf of a Muslim reservist airman who refused to serve in Iraq, and for Feroz Abbasi, a Guantanamo Bay detainee.He said he was prepared to receive information relating to the inquiry in private, adding: "Such an approach may offer greater flexibility in reviewing this material than might be the case with a formal inquiry.

The announcement of the review came amid fresh disclosures about Deepcut from Tammy Firth, who was posted to the Surrey barracks nine years ago. She claimed that female recruits had been forced to run naked around a parade ground and that a number of NCOs offered easier regimes in return for sex.