MoD tried to cover up bullying figures

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    MoD 'tried to cover up' bullying figures
    By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent


    (Filed: 24/07/2006)



    The Ministry of Defence was accused of acting "disgracefully" after it attempted to "cover up" the true extent of bullying in the Army by hiding unfavourable survey figures.

    The accusation was made by Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat spokesman who uncovered the figures after a series of written Parliamentary questions. He said the answers "were simply too damaging to reveal".

    In the annual "continuous attitude survey", which measures troops' feelings on a range of subjects, the military is charged with deliberately leaving out a question this year that referred to harassment and discrimination.

    It was replaced by another question. The MoD is accused of attempting to hide the answers to that question from Parliament by claiming the analysis was too "complex".

    The survey at first showed that little more than three per cent of the 2,600 soldiers and officers questioned felt they had experienced some form of unpleasantness.

    But the MoD, after being asked several direct questions in the Commons, disclosed figures that showed almost 14 per cent of soldiers had experienced some form of harassment although most of these felt they could not report it.

    Col Douglas Young, chairman of the British Armed Forces Federation, said it was extraordinary that the MoD should attempt to hide figures on "a worrying subject".

    Mr Harvey called for an independent complaints commissioner to be appointed as recommended by a report into the deaths of four soldiers at Deepcut barracks.

    "The MoD should be doing everything in its power to investigate bullying in the Army, not covering up unwelcome statistics," Mr Harvey said. The MOD said it had not "attempted to conceal any statistics".