The Times - Army faces huge bill for victims of rough justice

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#1
The Times - Army faces huge bill for victims of rough justice

7th January, 2013

Deborah Haynes, Defence Editor (profile and other stories)

At least 1,400 soldiers have received unfair sanctions, including dismissal and missed promotion, because the Army spent several years wrongly disciplining anyone who received a police caution.

Minutes and briefing notes from two Army Justice Board meetings show that the Adjutant-General, the Army’s most senior personnel officer, knew as early as 2011 of the problem, which is related to changes in the law on rehabilitating offenders.

It is unclear, however, whether those affected by the mistake have been informed that potentially career-ending penalties should not have been enforced against them. One senior army officer told The Times that compensating for the error could cost millions of pounds and that the damage to soldiers’ careers would be irreparable. “The Army has unlawfully taken action in 1,400 cases, including dismissing soldiers — and they are covering it up,” the officer claimed.

Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that the police cautions issue “looks like a mistake which must be corrected”. He added: “Ministers must now act urgently and look at real retrospective justice for those who have been sanctioned or dismissed and having records wiped clean.”

An internal briefing note, seen by The Times and dated October 24, 2012, read: “A change in the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 means that we can no longer take admin action against soldiers who receive police cautions and admin action has been incorrectly taken in 1,400 cases between Nov 2008 and Aug 2011.”

It added: “There are two issues under consideration: Getting the law changed for the future; Redressing the wrong we have done to those who had admin action taken against them on the basis of a caution.”

The note, prepared for a meeting on October 26 of the Army Justice Board, headed “Restricted — Management”, also discloses that even more soldiers may, in theory, have a right to redress, but that the Ministry of Defence had deemed this “impractical”.

“A strict reading of the law would require us not only to take action on sanctions awarded after Nov 2008 but also reverse [any] sanction still having effect after that date,” it said. “MoD has taken the view that to do so would be impractical and can not do so.”

The documents indicate that the MoD has been urging the Ministry of Justice to include the Army, Royal Navy and RAF in an exemption to the law, meaning that the military would be allowed to continue to dish out internal sanctions for anyone who received a police caution.

Minutes from the October meeting indicate that Jeremy Wright, the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Justice Ministry, was prepared to add the Armed Forces to the exemption order. “Since this will not be backdated, the MoD will seek to recompense those who have been ‘wronged’ based on an ex-gratia payment,” the minutes said.

Among proposals to rectify the mistake was a plan to give another chance to anyone who had missed promotion because of a tarnished personnel record. There appeared, however, to be concern about the scale of the problem. “AG [Adjutant-General] stated that a better understanding of the risks is needed before any plan can be formulated for dealing with the potential bow-wave of service complaints that might arise as a consequence of administrative action taken as a result of police cautions,” the October minutes said.

The briefing note said that, for anyone who was no longer serving and was too late to make an internal complaint, the only recourse would be a judicial review. It added that the exemption order was due to be drafted and placed before Parliament this month, with the Army hoping that it would be activated in May this year.

A spokesman for the Government said it was committed to ensuring that service personnel were not treated unfairly by being in the Armed Forces. “As soon as we became aware of this issue in 2011 the Armed Forces stopped taking administrative action against service personnel who receive a police caution,” he said. “A number of options are now being looked at and discussions are ongoing.”

The senior officer believed that the Army was deliberately taking its time before alerting affected soldiers about the issue because it would reduce the number eligible to issue a complaint — something that must be done within three months of the alleged wrong.

A briefing note for an Army Justice Board meeting in January last year said: “The longer we take no action the fewer the ‘in time’ complaints about other sanctions there will be.”

The officer said: “The Army is deliberately stalling so that by the time most soldiers realise, it’s too late.”

A spokesman for the MoD said: “It is completely untrue to suggest that we have deliberately stalled on alerting soldiers affected by this. A number of options are now being looked at and discussions are ongoing.”

deborah.haynes@thetimes.co.uk"
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3649756.ece
 
#5
Why the hell not? When I was 16 I let my 15 year old mate ride my 50cc bike. He got stopped by the rozzers and got done for no license and no insurance. I was done for aiding & abetting.

We were bang to rights.

Are you suggesting we should have gone to court & got records? Absurd.
I think his point is you got a record any way. Bang to rights is one thing, innocent is another.
 
#6
If the Police and CPS can prosecute they will. If they do not have enough evidence, they may and usually do offer a caution. You have to weigh up why they are offering a caution because a caution equates to a conviction in crime recording purposes.

It also goes on your record.

NEVER accept a caution unless it is in your advantage to do so.
 
#10
Hum.

So how would it work now if a soldier accepted a police caution for possession of a Class A/B/C drug? Prior to this, Major Admin Action was seen as a correct method of dealing with the failing (dismissal). If the Army cannot deal with this under Admin Action or Summary Hearing, what then?

I see trouble ahead....
 
#11
As others have stated, a caution is a guilty plea and gives you a criminal record. Never accept a caution. See a solicitor.
wise ****ing words. Argue the ins and outs as much as you want but many a law abiding upstanding citizen has fallen foul of this.

Stand down if you are a workshy thieving repeat offender with no future potential and a record as long as your arm

I stopped a very drunk aquaintance (who did something pointless and stupid but unprovable by the coppers) from accepting a caution which would probably have de railed his high flying career. I had to phone another friend (A defence solicitor) to explain this to him.

he saw sense and walked away, lesson learnt
 
#14
wise ****ing words. Argue the ins and outs as much as you want but many a law abiding upstanding citizen has fallen foul of this.

Stand down if you are a workshy thieving repeat offender with no future potential and a record as long as your arm

I stopped a very drunk aquaintance (who did something pointless and stupid but unprovable by the coppers) from accepting a caution which would probably have de railed his high flying career. I had to phone another friend (A defence solicitor) to explain this to him.

he saw sense and walked away, lesson learnt
So you told a friend to lie to get himself off a crime he committed and you think that is a good thing.


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#15
To administer a caution, you still have to have enough evidence to take the case to court and the offender has to freely and frankly admit the offence.

The offender cannot have much previous and it should not be related to the offence in question. Most people who get a caution are first time offenders or it is the first time they have been caught. Why would you want to go to court if you are banged to rights rather than accept a caution.

Remaining silent and not admitting to what you have done is one thing but refusing a caution when it is your best option is silly.


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#17
"At least 1,400 soldiers have received unfair sanctions, including dismissal and missed promotion" - from the article.

I wonder how many will have lawyers claiming their career prospects would have taken them to the heights of WO1 and a posssible LE Commission in order to asssess an appropriate level of compensation for lost earnings?
 
#18
I would suggest that any soldier who has been discharged because of a caution was not necessarily the best soldier in the British Army and that the caution was just the excuse to get rid of him. Therefore any claims that the individual was unjustly deprived of a career and promotion to great heights is a load of A**se.
Yes I have known of people who got the boot for an apparently minor matter, it just happened to be the last straw.
 
#19
If I wait long enough I'm hoping to get my reduction in rank from Lance Jack overturned from 1991. Even though I left as an LE Captain, maybe they'll bump my pension up to a Major's ;-)
 
#20
If I wait long enough I'm hoping to get my reduction in rank from Lance Jack overturned from 1991. Even though I left as an LE Captain, maybe they'll bump my pension up to a Major's ;-)
Almost everyone had at least one reduction in rank from LCpl in those days, didn't they? It was either that, or a spell in the "corner shop" that was apparently the making of all the best soldiers! :)
 

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