Army disciplinary hearings condemned as 'kangaroo courts'

Army disciplinary hearings have been condemned as unaccountable “kangaroo courts” in a damning report submitted to MPs that calls for a “root and branch overhaul” of the system.

The report, seen by Channel 4 News, said the service was “frequently unlawful” in its handling of complaints and internal sanctions proceedings.

It added that the Ministry of Defence had ignored the lessons of Deepcut - the Surrey barracks where four recruits died amid claims of a culture of bullying.

The report has been produced by an unnamed serving Army officer for the Defence Select Committee as evidence for its investigation into how the service handles complaints and discipline. MPs are expected to produce their findings next year.

It painted a damning picture of the internal sanctions regime, known as AGAI 67.

According to the report, the system has “no safeguards to protect junior personnel from the chain of command”.

There was also “nothing to prevent dishonest commanders from pursuing vendettas against those over whom they exercise power”.

The submission said that under the regime, the MoD is the only UK employer to enjoy vast powers of sanction, suspension and dismissal without any independent oversight, or checks and balances.

Commanders have the power to deny legal representation, refuse witnesses, protect favoured colleagues and “stack the deck” in favour of the chain of the command, according to the report.

It said the “proceedings are ‘kangaroo courts’ – biased and partisan tribunals bounding inexorably towards predetermined conclusions.”

At times, it added, commanders had used the system against personnel who had the “temerity to complain about being abused by the chain of command”.

Army spokesperson said: “Soldiers should always receive fair and transparent treatment. Anything less is unacceptable. If any individual has concerns about this process there are a number of robust routes that they can pursue.

"We have not had sight of this report so cannot comment further on its findings. We look forward to receiving a copy so we can consider its findings in full.”

Changes allowing foreign soldiers who serve in the British Army to be allowed leave to remain in the UK even if they have minor convictions on their record are to be put before Parliament today, according to Channel 4 News.

At present, even low-level convictions for breaches of military discipline are considered a bar to settlement in the country.

A Home Office spokesman said the criteria for granting settlement rights, including how they would be affected by military convictions, had been reviewed and there would be an announcement shortly.

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