New inquiry into female officer's death
By Western Daily Press | Friday, July 26, 2013, 05:00
A new investigation is to be carried out into the death of a female military police officer from Dorset who was found hanged after accusing two colleagues of rape, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, 30, originally from Bournemouth, was found hanged at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire on October 9, 2011.
She had alleged that she was raped by two fellow Royal Military Police (RMP) soldiers while she was drunk and although the complaint was investigated by the RMP's Special Investigations Branch, prosecutors decided not to bring charges.
An inquest in March last year recorded a verdict of suicide, but in August the High Court ordered a fresh hearing should be held.
And the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed yesterday that a fresh investigation will be carried out, conducted by the RAF Police.
An MoD spokesman said: "Our thoughts remain with the family of Anne-Marie Ellement.
"After considering new lines of inquiry, we can confirm that Royal Air Force Police are conducting a new investigation into the allegations.
"We will continue to keep the family informed as this investigation progresses."
A civilian police force has also been asked to support this investigation.
Human rights campaign group Liberty, acting for Cpl Ellement's sisters Sharon Hardy and Khristina Swain, said it had asked that the case be reopened, conducted by service police from another branch of the military, in conjunction with civilian police specialising in sex crimes, amid concerns about the original investigation.
Lawyer Emma Norton said: "Whether soldier or civilian, your fundamental rights and freedoms deserve the same protection.
"This case was rotten from start to finish and as long as the military is allowed to continue investigating itself, it will not be the last.
"Only independent oversight of military investigations and greater civilian involvement will help ensure this never happens again."
Mrs Hardy, 44, from Christchurch, near Bournemouth, who previously alleged that the RMP failed in their duty of care to her sister, said: "Anne-Marie tried to seek justice on her own – sadly she never accomplished her fight and ended up taking her own life.
"Since her death we've learned of very serious failings within the original investigation – the lack of independence, properly trained staff and basic common sense made for a shambolic, failed inquiry which left our family outraged and extremely let down. We're delighted that the MoD has now agreed to a fresh investigation."
Ms Swain, 39, also from Christchurch, added: "If only this could have happened when Anne-Marie was still alive, she might still be with us now."
Liberty has launched Military Justice, a new campaign to protect and uphold the human rights of those in the armed forces.