§ Mr. Ashton
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement regarding the absence without leave since 4 October of Private Patrick Callaghan of Tylder road, Worksop and Private Byron Dent of Kilburn98W road, Belper now stationed in the Worcester and Sherwood Foresters at Lichfield following their allegations of brutality by non-commissioned officers while stationed in Cyprus this summer; if he will ensure that any disciplinary hearings and sentence will be made in this country and that they will not be sent back to Cyprus.
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
The two soldiers are no longer absent. The special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police is undertaking a full investigation into the allegations of bullying they have made.
Bullying is not tolerated in the Army, and anyone found responsible for such behaviour will be appropriately disciplined. Any charges that may follow from the SIB investigation will be dealt with in Cyprus, and the two soldiers may have to return there to give evidence.
Charges arising from the soldiers' absence will also be dealt with in Cyprus, and their attendance will be necessary. With regard to future postings, as soldiers must be available for duty anywhere in the world, I cannot give the undertaking sought.