The Times - Case of Cpl Ellement, who hanged herself, leads to call for RMP watchdog

DangerMouse

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#1
Case of Anne-Marie Ellement, the soldier who hanged herself, leads to call for watchdog

The Times, 28 Jan 13

The Government is set to create a military version of the Independent Police Complaints Commission after an investigation by The Times into a soldier who hanged herself after claiming that she had been raped. Proposals for external scrutiny of the three military police services are also in response to a lawsuit by scores of former Iraqi detainees who claim that they were tortured by UK troops.

Anne-Marie Ellement, a Royal Military Police (RMP) officer, wrote “justice is s*** ” when two fellow redcaps were cleared in January 2010 of her alleged rape. Her claim that the men had attacked her two months earlier when she was drunk was rejected after an RMP investigation. The young woman, regarded as a promising police officer, killed herself outside her barracks in Bulford in October 2011.

Internal Army documents seen by The Times reveal an awareness of the need to demonstrate that investigations into crimes involving service personnel are independent of the chain of command. The suicide of Corporal Ellement, 28, led to “crystallisation of [the] issue”, according to one restricted memo. It proposed an “independent oversight mechanism (similar to ... IPCC model)” to resolve the problem. A second document also indicated that the military police investigation into the alleged rape of Corporal Ellement had been reopened and that the file would be handed to a civilian police force after complaints that the initial inquiry was not independent.

Sharon Hardy, the dead woman’s sister, said that she welcomed the idea of the military police being subjected to outside oversight. The police services that uphold the law within the Army, Royal Navy and RAF have so far avoided the scrutiny that the IPCC is supposed to provide the public. “I hope for the future that the RMP does have an independent body governing them and that it has no links to the chain of command,” Mrs Hardy said.

Madeleine Moon, a Labour MP and member of the Defence Select Committee, is also supportive of the proposal provided that any new organisation did not purely comprise former military police. “What they need is an outside eye looking in,” said Mrs Moon, who is researching allegations of rape and sexual abuse within the Armed Forces.It is understood that options under consideration include using the existing IPCC or a similar body to oversee certain cases involving the three branches of the service police.

The Times this month revealed a litany of concerns about alleged failings within the military’s system of justice, from its ability to tackle minor offences to serious crimes and the limited avenue of redress for servicemen and women who believe that they have been dealt with unfairly.

Liberty, a human rights group that is supporting Corporal Ellement’s family, told Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, in a letter that it did not believe the original police investigation was compliant with human rights laws. Under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights any investigation into an allegation of rape must be conducted independently. A second inquest is expected to take place next year after Corporal Ellement’s family raised concerns about the first hearing last March. The MoD believes that the inquest will be “very difficult” and will likely lead to criticism of the department, according to another internal memo. A separate challenge to the way that the military dishes out justice is also causing concern.

More than 140 Iraqis are pushing for a public inquiry into allegations of torture and abuse of detainees by British forces in Iraq between 2003 and 2008. MoD lawyers must demonstrate that a team set up to investigate claims is independent of the chain of command when the lawsuit returns to the High Court tomorrow. A memo voiced the need for external oversight in the form of an IPCC to give the Army’s detention branch — which was part of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team but was also involved in detaining Iraqis — the ability to conduct investigations that comply with human rights laws.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3669970.ece

‘A nightmare. I was raped by two guys I work with’

When Anne-Marie Ellement, a 28-year-old corporal in the Royal Military Police, angrily dashed off a series of e-mails to a friend on a January afternoon, she had no idea that her heated words might change the system of military justice. Corporal Ellement was distraught. She said she had been raped by two of her colleagues while she was drunk and described the incident as a “nightmare”. But the nightmare, which would eventually drive her to take her own life, was about to get worse.

In late 2009, Corporal Ellement had gone out drinking with two male colleagues. She was trained in Thai boxing and had worked as a door supervisor in nightclubs. In the words of her sister, Sharon Hardy: “She probably felt safe drinking with the two male soldiers as she thought she could handle herself.” But in e-mails after the night out, Corporal Ellement told a friend: “I’m having a nightmare. I was raped by two guys I work with, when I was drunk. They admitted to stuff I couldn’t even remember, I came back out of my face . . . with nothing on but a cardigan, no jeans nothing, as I had run away.”

The people to whom she reported the alleged rape were the Royal Military Police (RMP), her own unit which investigates crimes in the Army. The complainant, both the alleged perpetrators and the investigators were all in the RMP. About seven weeks after the alleged attack, the Service Prosecuting Authority judged there was no realistic chance of conviction. The Service Prosecuting Authority is independent of the RMP but the Special Investigations Branch, whose role was to gather the evidence, is not. Two men who she said had stripped her, raped her and lied about it, were all set, in her view, to escape punishment for a terrible and humiliating crime.

Corporal Ellement e-mailed her friend: “The fact that people who are [meant] to uphold the law are beyond reproach of it makes me sick, I’ve gone through all this for nothing. The bastards have got away with it as the prosecuting service said there wasn’t enough evidence.
“I’ve had pretty much a total meltdown here . . . I can’t stay RMP as they are. Justice is s***.” Corporal Ellement was granted a compassionate job move. Later, she met a senior prosecuting officer who explained the decision to bring no charges. “She said that she accepted the reasons for their judgment,” the Army memo said. However, Corporal Ellement’s own e-mails to her friend suggest otherwise.

The alleged failure of the RMP to find enough evidence to bring a prosecution not only left her with a sense of injustice and betrayal, she also had a new misery: she claimed that her former friends and colleagues turned on her, believing that she had made a false accusation of rape which could have destroyed two colleagues’ lives. She said that she found herself isolated by other soldiers. “They are all giving me hell,” she e-mailed her friend. “The fact I’ve got f*** all friends, no family ... here is hell. I’m just living in my room as I can’t come out due to the grief I’m getting from the girls”. She later wrote: “Just to cover up the RMP indiscretions, people get away with anything.”

Corporal Ellement moved to Bulford camp, in Wiltshire, in March 2010. She was referred to the Department for Community Mental Health and interviewed by a psychiatric nurse, the Army note said. “Corporal Ellement seemed happy at her new unit and our records indicate that no further appointments were arranged.” In reality, as The Times reported last year, all was far from well at her new posting. The rape allegation became known on camp and the bullying resumed. One redcap recalled overhearing a male soldier telling the story: “I heard him say she was a bitch and that she had ruined his best mate’s life by ‘crying rape’.”

Corporal Ellement said that she found herself overwhelmed by work, needed time off with stress and was prescribed antidepressants and sleeping tablets. In Mrs Hardy’s words: “She never recovered from being raped.” Less than two years after the alleged attack and just three days after her 30th birthday, Corporal Ellement wrote “I’m sorry” on her mirror in lipstick, shed a few tears on the fire escape near her room, and hanged herself. Her body was found outside her barracks headquarters. The Army briefing note said on October 9 2011, “tragically, she committed suicide at her Barracks”. But rewind several years and there was no sign of the woman on antidepressants failing to cope with her miserable predicament. The 25-year-old Anne-Marie Ellement was ecstatic when she signed up for the RMP. She was fulfilling a lifelong ambition by following her family’s military tradition.

The rape investigation is being reopened after concerns that it was not sufficiently independent. Mrs Hardy and another sister, Khristina Swain, have led the fight for justice. An inquest last year into the death concluded that she committed suicide but her sisters felt that the hearing failed to address the role of the military leading up to her decision. The High Court has ordered a fresh inquest, and a pre-inquest hearing was held last week. Four commanding officers could be called to give evidence. The family of Corporal Ellement said that dozens of serving and former soldiers could be called as witnesses.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3669916.ece

A right denied only to military personnel

The military is realising that its centuries-old system of internal justice is insufficient to meet today’s requirements for an independent investigation or trial within a reasonable period of time.

This fundamental right, part of a modern democracy, is something that servicemen and women risk their lives to uphold when they are sent to fight overseas on behalf of our Government. So it is ironic that military personnel are the only people in Britain not automatically afforded such independent hearings and investigations if desired.

The Royal Military Police are highly skilled and competent, with a reputation for professional honesty and integrity. The case of Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, in the words of the military itself, led to a “crystallisation” of the potential problems of looking into alleged crimes that involve fellow service police personnel.

No one is suggesting that there is a culture of cover-up. The issue is the absence of independent oversight, which rightly or wrongly creates the perception of unfairness. The Ministry of Defence faces the same dilemma over claims of abuse of Iraqi detainees by British soldiers in Iraq.
Asking the Independent Police Complaints Commission to step in when concerns arise over a criminal investigation by the Armed Forces — or creating a military version of the watchdog — would help to address the perception that large parts of the military justice system escape the external scrutiny that is commonplace in civilian life.

Evidence that the MoD is considering oversight is welcome but it is a shame that it was only initiated after the allegations of abuse by Iraqi detainees — and the lonely death of a military policewoman.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3669932.ece
 
#2
Why did the RMP investigate a rape? Shouldn't such a serious crime have been dealt with by CivPol?
 

DangerMouse

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#4
Why did the RMP investigate a rape? Shouldn't such a serious crime have been dealt with by CivPol?
The Armed Forces Act 2006 gave Service Police the power to conduct the whole range of criminal investigations, up to and including rape and murder. (The Act also considerably increased the powers of military commander more broadly, for example extending COs' powers of imprisonment by 50%, from 60 to 90 days).

What issues are there - if any - with Service Police controlling all investigations - up to and including rape and murder - with its own 'in-house' police forces?


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#5
Home Office forces would not have thought twice about calling in another force or IPCC. Deciding not to at the off, undermines the RMP and the Army.
 
#8
What issues are there - if any - with Service Police controlling all investigations - up to and including rape and murder - with its own 'in-house' police forces?
1. Prevents allegations of whitewash when it's one of your own that gets raped.
2. Could you trust the Shore Patrol or the Snowdrops?
 
#11
**** off yourself you ********.
No, I'm asking appropriate questions on the current affairs thread and you come dicking along thinking your ****ing smart. Either piss of to the NAAFI, provide a decent answer or shut your ****ing pie hole.

Idiot.
 
#12
Do you know exactly what the role of the SIB is & the fact they are as qualified as civi plod with their own scenes of Crime Officers and forensic technicians or is it your contention they are only fit to solve locker thefts?
 
#13
I think the point is that SIB are part of RMP and could expect to be accused of conflict of interests investigating alleged crime by their own.

If that is not clear enough Dingerr will expand.


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#14
I think the point is that SIB are part of RMP and could expect to be accused of conflict of interests investigating alleged crime by their own.

If that is not clear enough Dingerr will expand.


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Point taken and as you'll see in my original post I actually asked a question myself & the fact that Dinger flew off on one telling me to **** off & that I've never served was totally unnecessary.
 
#15
Do you know exactly what the role of the SIB is & the fact they are as qualified as civi plod with their own scenes of Crime Officers and forensic technicians or is it your contention they are only fit to solve locker thefts?
The article did not mention the incident occurred in BFG, but that the victim hung herself at Bulford. I was enquiry why the RMP investigated it (or for pedantic fucks RMP(SIB)).

And clearly it's some people's contention they are only fit to solve locker thefts if the introduction of a service IPCC is to be introduced.
 
#16
Point taken and as you'll see in my original post I actually asked a question myself & the fact that Dinger flew off on one telling me to **** off & that I've never served was totally unnecessary.
Do you need a hanky sweetheart?
 
#18
I'm intrigued as to why the call for an IPCC for service police is based on this case.

It makes no mention of a poorly investigated case or any collusion to protect the name of the cap badge or service.

It's unfortunate she chose to commit suicide and I can understand, but not condone it, to some extent.

But no difference who investigates and prosecutes, allegations of rape a notoriously difficult to substantiate and two things not in her favour was drunkenness and accusing two people of the rape.
 
#19
Its not unheard of that certain allegations like this one will be dealt with by their own. However, i would of thought that a different RMP Company and/or SIB Section from the UK would have lead, i dont think it will have been investigated by Bulford. However, due to the seriousness of the offence i would of thought Civ Pol would of dealth with it.
 
#20
Rape investigation is a perpetual problem for civil police services.

You are only ever one error (or error in hindsight, someone else's hindsight usually not in the time/resource pressured circs as you were) from a IPCC pull-through.

But so serious an allegation has to be treated seriously (please not I do not say believed uncritically). But it is the top tier for investigators, at least with murder the victim is dead. A raped person has to try and pull their life back together.

Internally rape investigations are reviewed at periodic intervals by internal and external Senior Investigating Officers (DI or DCI, by external I mean external to the enquiry).

This is overseen by the Crown Prosecutor as well, if charges are likely.

All stranger rape and the "odd" ones (or violent) also used to go to the Serious Crime Analysis Section of the National Police Improvement Agency to look for offender profiles/patterns.

So really, by the time it has gone through all that lot? Yeah, bring in the IPCC. Remind me of their investigative experience? Likely to be less than mine.

Sad really, so I hope the Service agency gets it right and it is a proper review not just a "Prosecute Coppers Always" like they used to be known.

The abridged rape investigation manual can be found here:

http://www.acpo.police.uk/documents...g and Prosecuting Rape_Public Facing_2010.pdf

Good luck improving on it, it really is a good bit of kit.
 

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