Questions For Army Over Libyan Soldiers At Bassingbourn Barracks
10 February 2015, 06:10
Councillors from across Cambridgeshire are set to demand answers to questions about the circumstances surrounding the posting of Libyan troops at Bassingbourn barracks last year.
Councillors from Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council will meet senior UK army officials this evening (10 February).
City councillors say that an independent inquiry is needed to understand the events that led to the troops being sent home following allegations of sexual assaults by Libyan cadets in Cambridge.
Last month the Rt Hon Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, released a written statement to the House of Commons and published an edited summary of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) report on the arrangements for training Libyan troops.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, wrote to the Secretary of State asking for an independent inquiry into the matter but the Secretary of State wrote back saying that he did not support an inquiry.
Cllr Herbert, said: "We have a list of 22 questions that we have shared in advance with the army, which we will be asking the army and the MoD to answer.
"The fact that there are so many questions, and our fear that the answers will once more be inadequate, reinforces the need for an independent inquiry. I called for it last year, I called for it last month and I call for it again.
"It's just not good enough for the MoD to be appointed to investigate itself on an issue which had such a horrific impact on a number of our residents.
"We need answers and we demand an independent inquiry that will tell us what happened, why and how it can be avoided in future. Full independent answers are the least that Cambridge and Bassingbourn residents and the victims of the alleged attacks deserve.
"It may be uncomfortable for the army and for the MoD but we must have openness. That means holding an independent inquiry with a commitment from the Secretary of State for Defence to fully accept its conclusions and the recommendations that it makes. Communities near MoD facilities across Britain, as well as Cambridgeshire, need certainty that no community will again be exposed to such risks, and without any warning."