Sandhurst in fresh sex scandal as nearly 200 women report abuse at the famed military academy

  • The cases span a period of more than 20 years, with the most recent last month
  • Sandhurst claims follow 19 sexual relationships between instructors and cadets 
  • Other stats show that 600 female troops have been abused by male colleagues 

Sandhurst is facing a slew of sex allegations as nearly 200 women claim they sought help after being abused at the military academy.

The cases span a period of more than two decades – with the most recent allegation understood to date from just last month.

In separate figures, campaigners revealed that 600 serving female troops have reported being sexually abused by male colleagues. Many of the women did not report their experiences to senior officers.

These include at least six female cadets from Sandhurst who claim to have been abused by male staff.

Olivia Perks died in February 2019 – in what is thought to be the first case of a female cadet taking her life at Sandhurst

It is the latest scandal for the Berkshire academy after a report found that 19 sexual relationships had been taking place between instructors and cadets before a trainee took her own life.

The report this month highlighted the number of forbidden relationships as a factor in the suicide of Olivia Perks in 2019. The 21-year-old had been in a secret relationship with an Army gym instructor in the months before her death.

What happened to Olivia Perks? 

Olivia Perks died in February 2019 – in what is thought to be the first case of a female cadet taking her life at Sandhurst.

The 21-year-old was found hanged in her room following a breakdown of welfare provision for her – and amid a toxic culture of inappropriate relationships and heavy drinking.

The trainee, from Kingswinford in the West Midlands, had been placed on a suicide risk register in the months before her death.

She had also been in a secret relationship with an Army gym instructor – which was forbidden under Sandhurst rules – and spent time alone in the bedroom of a senior instructor two nights before her death.

At least two instructors at the academy in Berkshire face disciplinary charges relating to her death. An inquest is expected to take place next year.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org

 

Paula Edwards, of victims’ group Salute Her which compiled both sets of figures, said: ‘Across the Armed Forces we’ve received around 600 reports from serving female troops.

They want mental health support, many are feeling suicidal. The victim shaming is appalling. For many the reaction to reporting a sexual assault is more traumatising than the incident itself.’

Referring to a recent case of a female cadet at Sandhurst, Ms Edwards added: ‘She ended up withdrawing her allegation because being questioned about [the abuse] was so traumatising.

I can think of at least five other stand-out cases at Sandhurst in the last couple of years, since the death of Olivia Perks. So I don’t think enough has been done to change the culture there.

‘Even in the last 24 hours, ten women have contacted me about mistreatment in military workplaces. The scale of the problem is huge.’ The claims have emerged following sexual misconduct scandals in the Red Arrows and in the Royal Navy’s submarine service.

Two pilots were sacked from the Red Arrows and four more disciplined over sex abuse allegations. In the most serious incidents, pilots were accused of sexually assaulting female colleagues. They were not charged with any offences by military police but top brass decided the evidence justified their dismissal from the RAF.

The Daily Mail also revealed how the commander of Red Arrows has been suspended pending an investigation into claims his affair with a junior female colleague resulted in her pregnancy.

The Royal Navy has also launched an inquiry into evidence exposed by the Mail surrounding the mistreatment of female submariners.

The 200 accusations are just the latest scandal for the Berkshire academy after a report found that 19 sexual relationships had been taking place between instructors and cadets before the trainee took her own life 

Following the claims, senior officers launched the Defence Serious Crimes Unit (DSCU), an investigations team specialising in sexual offences within the Armed Forces.

But Ms Edwards warned: ‘The same officers who failed victims in the past will be seconded to the DSCU. I believe, as do many women who approach us, that civilian police should be investigating serious crimes against women in the Armed Forces.

‘That’s because the DSCU… is not properly independent. It will also take a long time for attitudes to change.’

Last night a Ministry of Defence spokesman insisted that the new unit was ‘independent of the chain of command’ and will investigate crimes across all services.

He also highlighted new legislation which makes it an offence in military law for instructors to have sexual relationships with recruits.

The spokesman added: ‘The Armed Forces has a zero tolerance approach to sexual assault. Any allegations reported will be investigated, with immediate action taken.’

Referring to flings between trainees and staff, he said: ‘Recruits and cadets deserve to be treated with respect – not taken advantage of.’

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