'Let the public know what went wrong at Bassingbourn Barracks' - calls to reveal inquiry report into Libyan soldier scandal
PUBLISHED: 14:16 30 December 2014 | UPDATED: 09:35 31 December 2014
A report into alleged sex assaults by Libyan cadet soldiers training at Bassingbourn Barracks should be made public, say councillors across Cambridgeshire.
Cambridge City Council leader Lewis Herbert has made the call on behalf of Cambridge City Council, South Cambs District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.
All three authorities believe that the Ministry of Defence review to defence secretary Michael Fallon should be made public when it is presented next month.
Councillor Herbert said: “Michael Fallon has had his internal Ministry of Defence review report sitting on his desk since before Christmas - December 19 - and the victims of this string of nasty alleged sex assaults deserve to see it now, as local residents do too.
“It’s important that, however difficult the findings of the review may be for particular institutions, the lessons from this shocking episode are learned and acted upon.”
The three councils are also asking for an independent inquiry to follow the MoD review and have asked the secretary of state to support them.
Councillor Herbert added: “This affected Cambridge and Bassingbourn, not just MoD property.
“The public across Cambrigeshire need to have full confidence and assurance that failings will not be repeated and that their safety will be always be the top priority for our defence forces in future.”
The call comes as a Freedom of Information request by the BBC revealed the MoD were warned of the risks posed by allowing the Libyan soldiers on visits off base.
The government was warned of “significant immigration, security and reputational risks to the UK.”
The Libyan cadets were based at Bassingbourn while they received training on how to improve security in the troubled North African country, despite public concerns about security and safety. After a string of alleged sex crimes and other security breaches, they were hurriedly sent home.
Questions including how the decision to conduct training in the UK was made and whether the vetting processes for the trainees were adequate have been put to the MoD. Councillor Herbert added: “One central question also demands an answer - ‘Who ordered this high risk programme to proceed and why?’ despite the risks that Whitehall clearly knew about, including putting the safety of Cambridge and Bassingbourn residents in jeopardy at a time when Libya is in chaos.”
You can read the terms of reference online at www.cambridge.gov.uk/news/2014/12/19/councillors-welcome-publication-of-libyan-review-scope-and-call-for-todays-mod.