Friday, September 16, 2005

Former Gibraltar Regiment soldier denounces ‘unfair treatment' by MoD

• Charge denied by CBF

A former Gibraltar Regiment corporal has challenged the Ministry of Defence to explain why he was made to face court-martial proceedings in Britain in 2004 even though the local regiment of which he was a member is acknowledged not to be a part of the regular British Army.

The ex-corporal who spent ten years in the regiment has also declared that it is unfair that Gibraltar Regiment personnel serving locally should be on inferior pay, conditions and housing rights to their British army counterparts, yet when it comes to disciplinary procedures, he was treated as part of the regular British army contingent for the purposes of the trial.

He also claims that the contract or attestation paper they sign when they become members of the Gibraltar Regiment is identical to the contract signed to join the regular British Army.

“The MoD cannot cherry-pick. Either I am in the British army for everything or for nothing at all, and not only for the bad things,” he told the Chronicle yesterday.

He faced a court martial for an ABH charge after an incident in Gibraltar that occurred in October 2003, and had to travel to Colchester for the hearing.

He faced the prospect of a six month sentence in military prison in UK, but was subsequently found not guilty.

He has also questioned the legality of this procedure and the lack of information about the case that was made available to him by his superiors in the months leading to the hearing and since. He said:

“I want to know why I was ‘extradited’ to UK to be tried by an army that I do not belong to and in a country other than where the alleged offence took place, to be tried under English law as opposed to Gibraltar law.”

He has since left the Gibraltar Regiment.

Perfectly sensible reason, says MoD

Ministry of Defence has declared that there is a perfectly sensible reason why the court martial in question was held in UK and not in Gibraltar.

Speaking to the Chronicle yesterday, an MoD spokesman said that there was a lack of court martial facilities in Gibraltar because “this is a rare occasion locally” whereas in UK this is a much more frequent occurrence.

The spokesman said a court martial requires a certain degree of structure and facilities, including qualified legal advisors that have to be present during the sessions.

He also denied that soldiers were treated unfairly. The spokesman said:

“There is not enough of a throughput in Gibraltar to justify establishing a court martial set up, that is why we took the case to UK rather than bring the entire entourage over.”

He added the rules they applied were fair for the vast majority of cases even if this particular individual felt aggrieved at the way he had been treated.


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