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Inquest finds army bullying and alleged rape contributed to death of Anne-Marie Ellement

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg has found that the effect of an alleged "blue on blue" rape, army bullying in the work place, work-related despair and a relationship breakup contributed to the self-inflicted death of Anne-Marie Ellement, a Royal Military Police (RMP) soldier based at Bulford, on 9 October 2011.

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The Coroner made two recommendations: (i) on the need for the MoD/Armed Forces to have a specific policy for dealing with victims of sexual violence within the military; and (ii) training to army personnel on the management of soldiers who are vulnerable and at risk of suicide. This verdict is the result of a three-year battle by Anne-Marie's sisters to overturn the first inquest which lasted for a day.

On 20 November 2009 Anne-Marie Ellement reported being raped by army colleagues. The initial investigation was carried out by the RMP / Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) and there was no prosecution. Anne-Marie Ellement was then subjected to a campaign of rape-related bullying whilst stationed in Germany and she was placed on a suicide vulnerability register (SVRM). On transfer to Bulford in the UK, there was a failure to transfer welfare information and the SVRM / care plan to the UK, which HM Coroner described in his summing up as "unforgivably bad". Anne-Marie was then subjected to rape-related bullying in the UK, work and fitness-related bullying from the chain of command and extreme work pressure and bad management practices which culminated in Anne-Marie taking her own life. During the inquest it became clear that the Armed Forces / MoD have no specific policy in place for victims of sexual violence in the military.

The fight continues to bring Anne-Marie's assailants to justice.

Anne-Marie's sisters, Sharon Hardy and Kristina Swain, were represented by Emma Norton of Liberty, Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court and Katherine Hardcastle of 6 KBW.

The case has been widely reported in the national press, including by The Independent, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Kirsten Heaven is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests Team.

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