Deepcut: Ex-soldier 'hid from bullies' at army barracks where Cheryl James died

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A former soldier from the controversial Deepcut Army Barracks has spoken of how he hid in a cupboard to get away from the 'insidious bullying' that went on there.

Stewart Thompson said there has to be a public inquiry into the brutal regime at the Surrey training camp.

Mr Thompson had a breakdown six years after his time in the barracks, leaving the Army after serving in Bosnia. But he says that Deepcut was far more frightening than being on the front line.

Today the parents of Cheryl James, one of four young soldiers found dead at the barracks, praised Mr Thompson.

Des and Doreen James from Llanymynech, near Oswestry, said it showed that there were still people suffering from the effects of what had happened.

Des and Doreen James

In June an inquest into the death of 18-year-old Cheryl, who died at Deepcut in 1995, concluded that she took her own life.

Speaking on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, Mr Thompson said he served two spells at Deepcut, once after his initial training in Pirbright then again after failing his Army driving test. He said it was a hard regime at Pirbright but nothing like Deepcut.

"The brutality was insidious and completely unexpected and for no reason," he said.


"It was hard to make friends because there was a lot of paranoia."

"I had two or three close friends and we used to lock each other in cupboards for a couple of hours to get away from it all. Or you could climb up into the attic space, the rafters of the block to disappear. And there would be people hiding under their beds."

Mr Thompson said the recruits would be woken at 1am or 2am in the morning and made to parade for no apparent reason.

"We were de-humanised and we had no freedom. I later served in Bosnia, but it was nothing compared to Deepcut. Four young people died at the camp. There must be a public inquiry."


Mr James said Mr Thompson's account of Deepcut was another sign that there was a culture of bullying at the camp.

"People are starting to realise that something was very wrong there." He said he was still pressing for a public inquiry.

"I am getting very annoyed with the Ministry of Defence for its silence," he said.

"Within two days of Cheryl's inquest the current and a former head of the military made remarks suggesting there could be a public inquiry. But since then there has been nothing."

  • Mr James is calling on people to sign an online petition calling for a public inquiry at

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