Corporal Ellement’s death casts a shadow over the Army

Authorities must ensure that something like this never happens again

Share

The death of Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement is not only a tragedy in itself, it is also a grim insight into the worst aspects of Army culture.

The 30-year-old military policewoman was found hanged at Bulford Barracks in October 2011. Yesterday, an inquest ruled that the continuing effects of an alleged rape which Army investigators decided not to prosecute, and the bullying that resulted, were both factors in the suicide. Indeed, the coroner is recommending that the Ministry of Defence conduct a review of its welfare policies.

Quite right. The details of the case are a catalogue of failures. After the corporal claimed that she had been raped by two other soldiers while on a posting in Germany, and the military authorities had ruled there was insufficient evidence to bring charges, Cpl Ellement remained in the same barracks, accommodation that she shared with the girlfriend of one of the alleged attackers. The result was systematic bullying from colleagues who claimed that she had “cried rape” and broken the regiment’s code of silence. Then, although the corporal was placed on a suicide-risk register while in Germany, when she was transferred back to Britain, the information was not passed on – an oversight the coroner described yesterday as “unforgivably bad”.

Cpl Ellement’s family expressed relief at yesterday’s verdict and its confirmation that “Anne-Marie was treated appallingly and let down by the Army”. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has apologised and vowed to “learn lessons” from the failures identified by the coroner. But the matter does not end here. This is not the first time that questions have been raised about the treatment of soldiers who make complaints. Nor is it the first glimpse of a culture of bullying, abuse and sexual harassment (and worse) in Britain’s armed forces, or of official attempts to keep such matters out of the public eye.

There is no way to make amends for the death of Cpl Ellement. But at the very least the authorities can ensure that it never happens again. More than a decade after the unexplained deaths of four recruits at Deepcut Barracks, also amid claims of bullying, the military has still not satisfactorily tackled the problem. Now it must.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Queen Elizabeth II with members of the Order of Merit  

Either the Queen thinks that only one in 24 Britons are women, or her Order of Merit is appallingly backward

Janet Street-Porter
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...